A Better Life Lived.


Somewhere Else


A young man lays on a scented pillow, stroking the softness of the fabric while he waits, his head decorously down so he wouldn't seem impertinent.  He heard footsteps coming his way and smiled.  Both his masters were up already this morning.  It was good since he had sent for them.  He knelt when they walked in, knowing which one was which by the one who stroked over his bound hair and the one who gave him a gentle pat to the cheek as he passed.   He waited until they were comfortably reclined and shifted over between them, daring to kiss them both on their bare shoulders.  One was dark of hair, kept short so it wouldn't tangle under his helmet in battle.  He was firmly built, a bit stocky but most of it was muscle and a large frame; nothing that spoke of immodest living.  The other was fairer than he was.  He  was a redhead.  He was also a commander, a leader of their combined armies.  Both had blue  eyes that could see through you if  they wanted.  He leaned forward to kiss the redheaded master, he was the one who had stroked over his hair.  He was generally more permissive now that he was well-trained and broken in.  "The King wanted to speak to one of you in the next while, after you're fully awake he said."

The other smiled at him, stroking over his back.  "You did good to wake  us, Alexandrus."  He continued to pet his pleasure slave.  In truth the two of them loved each other and their boy quite a lot.  They might not be able to show it to each other in the open, their people would lose respect for them, but they did show it openly to their helper and pleasurer.  He got a shy smile and grinned back.  "Which one did he want to see?"

"He said he didn't care, just one of my masters, whichever one wanted to deal with a problem today."  He turned to nuzzle his other master's throat, making him chuckle.  "I put him in the study with food and juice."

"Good boy," the other one said, smiling and patting him on the back.  "I'll deal with him.  You have a good wake-up, Marcus."

"Be gentle with him.  The King is a new father and probably lacks some sleep from celebrating," that one reminded him, giving his slave a gentle push toward his crotch.  His slave went willingly, loving to do this for him.  He moaned, spreading his thighs so their slave could lay between them.

"Perhaps I'll stay for a minute longer," Octavian said quietly, laying back again.  He loved to watch his lover get his pleasure.

Marcus gave him a look.  "It's rude to keep him waiting."  Alexandrus shifted over to pleasure his other master, making him groan and stroke over his hair.  "Now I know why you made him grow it," he teased.

"It is a good thing to play with when he does that," Octavian agreed, arching into his  mouth.  He finally came and panted, watching as their slave shifted back to his other target, making them both moan at the sight of what he was doing.  Marcus got off a minute later with a very loud moan and Octavian grinned at him.  "Felt better than usual?"

"Hmm," he said, nodding a bit.  "He's learned very well how to please me.  Go deal with the King."

"If I must."  He got up and made sure he was straightened out on his way to the study his slave would've put the king into.  "Sire," he said as he walked in, kneeling to bow to him.

"Octavian, my general," he said fondly.  "Thank you for waking early for me."

"Not that early, My King," he said respectfully.  He sat across from him.  "Is there a new campaign?"

"No, it seems we're getting some minor diplomats soon and we've got a bit of a problem."  He ate another bite of the fruit he was nibbling on.  "Tell Alexandrus he has good taste.  I've never had these."  That got a smile.  "We have no idea about their people or their customs and with the new baby we're not sure we want anyone in the palace for the first month of its life anyway."

"I heard you had her," he said, smiling a bit.  "She's healthy?"

"So far, very loud as well," he said proudly.  "I was hoping I could sit the diplomats with you for a while?"

"Of course.  We'd send you  information on their likes and customs so you knew what to prepare.  When are they arriving?"

"In about three days.  They're riding.  I've never dealt with his people but I've heard this is their ruler's youngest sister, her husband, and their assistant.  They're not traveling with many guards if they have any at all."

"They must be peaceful then, or want to be."

"That's how I took it as well.  I've sent messengers to them during the trip telling them of the birth and that you could put them up for a few days while we made sure the child was healthy and going to survive.  They sent back their acceptance of that idea."

"It's not a problem, Sire.  You know that."

He smiled.  "I knew I could count on you and perhaps they'll be new friends.  Alexandrus never comes out anymore.  He's got to be bored."

"That is his choice," he said dryly, giving him a look.  "He's feeling spoiled again."

"You do spoil him," he agreed.  "He sent a letter of congratulation for you while you were on that training route."

He nodded.  "He sent us word of it the same day and that fact was included.  I'm sorry if you found him impertinent."

"Not by any means.  He might as well be your wife."  He gave him a look.  "Not that some of us don't know, Octavian."  He had the grace to look away.  "If it works for you I wouldn't care.  You know that."  He stood up.  "I noticed the new maid."

"She's recently come to us to be hired," he said with a small smile.  "She came from the South and said it was nicer here.  Less heat."  He stood up.  "I'll have her sent to a room if you wanted, Sire."

"Please, Octavian.  Thank you."  He clapped him on the shoulder.  "Get back to your normal morning duties."  He nodded and left, going to send that woman to him.  It was a good way to celebrate since his wife was indisposed and his concubine was cranky.

Octavian walked into the room where they lounged, laying down again.  "Alexandrus, we're getting a set of diplomats and their personal assistant.  I'm not sure if he's a slave or not.  They'll be staying for a few weeks."

"The garden suite?" he suggested quietly.

Marcus smiled.  "That or the other one.  They'll realize we don't have much room.  How is his daughter?"

"She's good, healthy, loud," Octavian said with a smile.  "We're hosting the diplomats for a few weeks while they make sure she's healthy.  They know of it already."  That got a nod.  "The King doesn't know anything of their people so we're to send him information on what customs they use and what they like."

"That's reasonable," Marcus agreed.  He smiled at his lover.  "Just the set?"

"A couple and their assistant.  Perhaps a few guards but not many.  They're riding in."

"Interesting.  They'll definitely have stories to tell over dinner."  Alexandrus got up and went to make sure the arrangements were made for them.

"The King called him spoiled," Octavian said quietly.  "Said perhaps he'd make friends with the assistant.  Said he never got out anymore."

"That's his choice," Marcus reminded him.

"As I told him.  Not that I blame him.  The last time he went to the market alone someone tried to claim him and take him from us."  He stroked over his lover's arm.  "I didn't ask about the rumors from the North since it was a request and a happy moment."

"Thank you.  I'll do it at the strategy session next week."  That got a nod.  "Anything else happen?"

"He took a liking to our new maid so I set them into the same room."  That got a smile and a nod.  Alexandrus came back.  "The rooms being prepared?"

"Both sets," he agreed happily.  "Not that they're dirty or anything but they'll be ready by tomorrow."

"Probably the day after," Octavian told him.

Alexandrus smiled.  "They're closer than you think.  Guests always are, sire."  He gave him a grin.  "Or don't you remember General Marcus' mother showing up two weeks early?"

"I do remember that," he said dryly, making Marcus laugh.  "She made fantastic time."

"She got bored and impatient," Marcus assured him, smiling at their slave.  "Do I need to remind you how to behave around guests?"  He shook his head quickly, laying between them again to lay his head on his stomach.  He stroked over the bound hair.  "That's our good boy, Alexandrus."  He got another of those grins.  "We should prepare you for later tonight.  We'll be busy with the new guests next week."

"As you will it," he agreed demurely.  They both knew he enjoyed it so it wasn't a problem.  He shifted, rubbing himself gently against is keeper's leg.  "Are we using the special room tonight, sire?"

"We are," he agreed. The boy gave him a smile and then kissed the flesh he was laying on, snuggling in again.  "Did you get us breakfast, Alexandrus?"

"On its way, sires."  One of the housekeepers walked in with a large tray, making him move so he could serve them.  They got a smile from the older woman then she left, letting them eat bites of fruit and honeyed, pressed cake from their boy's fingers.

"You were the best pillage we've ever claimed," Octavian told him, smiling and taking a kiss.

The boy laughed and fed him another bite.  "Hunger makes you silly."  He fed his other master another bite then got him some juice to sip.  When they were done he got to clean up the scraps and then snuggled in again, earning a smile from both masters for his nature.  It was good they loved him.


Alexandrus smiled as he let their guests into the home.  "Welcome.  My masters will be out in a moment.  There was a messenger here."  He led them back into the garden area, watching as their 'assistant' sighed in pleasure.  "There is a nice suite that looks this way if  you care for it, or another that looks the way you came."

"The one on the garden would be nice," the wife said, smiling at him.  "You are very kind to us."

He smiled.  "Guests are special."  He led them to that room, letting them inside and opening all the doors, including the ones onto the garden.  "Feel free to wander around as you want, I'll send my Masters to the garden for you."  He bowed and backed out, leaving them to freshen up and do whatever.  He hurried to the study, tapping gently before walking in. "They appreciate the garden suite and I said you'd meet them there in a few minutes, once you were done with the messenger, sires."

Octavian smiled.  "Have the others pull out chairs and provide drinks.  We'll eat dinner in a few hours."  He nodded, going to do that.  He looked at the message again.  "He seems happy so apparently they're fairly nice."

"It's good."  He finished his note and handed it to the messenger.  "To the King or the head of the armies.  Whichever you run into first."  That got a nod and he hurried off.  He went to check on their horses while Octavian went to meet them first.  He found everything in order and Alexandrus struggling with a heavy tray.  "You couldn't get anyone to help?" he demanded.

"It's not right.  It's my job to serve you and your guests."

Marcus clapped his hands and two of the serving girls came over to take the tray.  "To the garden please."  He stopped Alexandrus.  "Calm down."  His slave pouted.  "I mean it.  They'll understand having servers, Alexandrus."  He nodded, looking down.  "Good boy.  Now, go freshen up.  You look like you were wrestling in the dirt again."  He hurried to do that while he went outside.  He smiled and shook their hands. "Welcome to our home.  I'm General Marcus...."

The woman waved off his introduction. "I've seen you in battle.  Be less formal."  They all smiled at that.  "I'm Astora, this is my husband Delphi, and this is our assistant Antonius."

"Well met," Octavian agreed, pouring drinks.  Alexandrus came back.  "This is our helper Alexandrus."

"He was very good to us while you were busy," she assured them, earning smiles.

"This is a beautiful home," Delphi said happily, sipping his juice.

"We've tried and Alexandrus fusses over things when we're with the armies," Octavian said, smiling a bit.  He looked at their slave then smirked.  "Is it dark in your room?"

"That's not dirt, sire.  It's a bruise," he admitted.  His masters both looked at him.  "I ran into the door."

"In the market earlier?" Marcus asked dryly.  "I didn't know it had doors."  Their slave looked down.  "Who?"

"The same as last time.  The headman's wife," he said quietly.

"I'll go scare her this time," Octavian said, frowning at their slave.  "Did she try to claim you?"  He nodded quickly.  "Then I'll beat her in public this time."  He smiled at their guests.  "Sorry.  She covets him."

"A good helper should be coveted," Astora said, pushing back some of her curly, dark hair.  "You shouldn't touch however."  They all smiled at that.  "I know your King was worried about insulting us."

"That and his newborn daughter," Alexandrus said quietly, looking at her.  "She's too small if someone might bring a cold or something near her.  He's cleared most of the palace."

"First heir?" Delphi said with a gentle smile.  They all nodded.  "We did the same when our first one came.  Not well enough since she still got sick, but we do  understand."  She squeezed his hand.  "But onto happier talks.  Will there be celebrations to her birth?"

"After the first month has passed," Marcus agreed.  "You'll be there about halfway through the week of celebrations."

"That gives him a legitimate reason to extend it," Delphi said happily.  He looked at Alexandrus.  "Be yourself around us."

"He is," Octavian agreed.  "He's shy.  His village sold him to us to make us leave them alone when he was barely into his manhood."  He sipped his juice.  "Alexandrus?"  He looked at him.  "Did you hit her back this time?"  He nodded.  "Good.  Is she going to be bruised?"

"Yes, sire," he said with a sweet smile.  "She's probably very sore of behind as well since she fell on it."

"Good," Marcus agreed.  "We'll deal with her tomorrow."  He stroked over his slave's braid.  "Is dinner ready on time tonight?"  He nodded at that.  "Excellent."  He smiled.  "We'd give you something to eat but dinner is in two hours.  Our cook would complain we'd never eat then."

"She does like to fuss," Octavian agreed.

Alexandrus looked at him.  "You're the one who wanted a cook that had more than eight healthy children.  Of course she considers you her children."  They both gave him looks.  "She said so.  Said you're more troublesome since you suddenly disappear to protect us but you're the same as her children to her."

Astora giggled, shaking her head.  "We have a few of those around our castle as well.  They take good care of us."  She stroked their assistant's head.  "You could go rest."

"I'm fine," he assured them, settling back into his chair.  He sipped his juice.  "I'm sure they've traveled in the past."

"We have," Octavian agreed happily, smiling at him.  "There's no insult to us, Antonius."  He nodded but stayed.  "We would not harm your masters."

"Though you do fuss nearly as well as our boy does," Marcus agreed.

"He was my first anniversary present from my wife," Delphi said, smiling at his boy.  "He's very protective of me."  He reached over smooth down the short hair.  "Go rest."  He shook his head.  "Now.  That is an order."

Alexandrus helped him up and into the  house.  "We'll check on dinner."  He smiled at him, nodding at him to follow him.  He opened a cabinet.  "For their needs."  The other slave blushed so he smiled.  "They're married, of course they need things to be content.  Or even with you.  We don't mind here."  That got a small smirk.  "I enjoy serving my masters daily, Antonius.  Do not worry about it.  They will not come to harm without my masters stepping in the way.  Now, do they need anything that's not in here?"

"A bath later?"

"We have a good one here."  He led him that way, showing him the bathing chambers.  That got a nod of appreciation.  "My masters will be busy later tonight.  Spend as much time in here as you need."  He opened another cabinet.  "Oils and bath soaps."  That got another nod.  He led him to the kitchen.  "Greela, this is Antonius, the diplomat's assistant."  He tasted something and grimaced.  "What is that?"

"Sauce for the meat.  I asked about their native dishes."

Antonius took a taste then nodded.  "It's done very well."  He smiled.  "We don't need that special of treatment."

"What do you prefer in the mornings?"

"Juice and something solid," he said.  She nodded at that.  "We usually have bread and a light cheese."

"I can do that.  We also have some sweeter fruit around here."

"Delphi desires sweets," he said happily.  That got a smile back.  "He'll come sneak sweets all the time at home."

"I'll make sure there's some made," she promised, patting him on the cheek.  "Since you're here dinner is in an hour.  Tell them to get cleaned up."  He nodded and they left again, Alexandrus sneaking a bite of dinner.  She smiled and got back to work.  He was a charming boy.

Alexandrus sat down again.  "Dinner has been moved to an hour from now."

"They made our meat and sauce dish," Antonius said as he sat down.  "She also asked what we'd like for breakfast."  That got a smile.  "I did warn her that sweets might come up missing, she promised to make more."  Delphi laughed and nodded.

"Let us finish cleaning up and we'll meet you at dinner," Astora said with a smile.

"Of course.  We don't hold to any particular customs about dress here.  Simply clothed will do."  She nodded, leading her men off.  He smiled at their slave.  "Did you show them the bathing chamber?"

He grinned. "Plus the supplies I stocked for them and the oils and soaps in there."

"Good boy," Marcus agreed. "Now, let's look at that bruise on your  face before dinner."  They went to their suite with their juice, letting the serving girls bring that in for dinner for those who didn't want wine.  The bruise was gently probed and cleaned around then salved for a bit.  By the time dinner was there it was darker but hurt less.


Later that night, Marcus walked into their special room.  It was windowless and the door was solid, plus it locked from the inside.  He stripped off his clothes at the doorway and locked it behind him, strolling over to the bed.  "Octavian."  His lover put down his scroll to smile at him.  "Are we sleeping tonight?"

"If you want," he promised, smiling and waving him closer.  "Come, husband."  They cuddled together, touching and kissing for now.  Alexandrus was curled up in front of the door to guard them.  If anyone wondered they were doing things to their slave in here as was proper and no one would dare think them together.  Still, Octavian loved his mate and loved to tease him until he begged.  As he was now.  Marcus was making greedy noises, silently begging him for more.  "Do you want first tonight or second?" he whispered in his ear, stroking over his cock slowly, like he liked.

"I'll take you then you take me," he hissed back, letting his lover have him for now.  "You have more stamina.  I see your hair and want to beg."  He moved to kiss and cuddle him, making him a happy lover.  "Oil?"  It was handed over so he got to work orally pleasing his mate while his fingers did what they needed behind him.  Octavian made such pretty noises when he did this to him.  He looked back at Alexandrus, who was watching, chewing on his lip so he wouldn't moan.  "Stay," he reminded him.  He nodded, curling up tighter.  He went back to it, smiling at his lover.  "He does love us."

"He proves it all the time," Octavian agreed, arching his hips up.  "He can have this later."  Marcus laughed, sliding up to so he could slip into his lover's body.  Octavian growled so he pressed until he was all the way inside.  He kissed him gently, smiling down at him.  "My general," he teased.

"And you're mine."  He pushed against him, urging him to do more.  "If you want your turn, hurry up."

Marcus laughed, pulling back to thrust in again, making him hiss and arch up in pleasure.  He repeated it over and over and over until he finally came, leaving Octavian begging and panting for release.  Then he carefully pulled back and went to his hands and knees, wiggling a bit.  Octavian pounced, taking what was his.  A swat of the fleshy cheeks and then some quick oiling before he could slide inside.  That earned them both a groan and a quieter one from the doorway.  "Alexandrus," he said, looking at him.  Their boy was still curled up but he had his hands clutched together.  "You are still allowed to touch yourself."

"Still bound," he reminded him gently, shifting closer.  He kissed his lower back then went back to his spot.  "I can wait.  Please?"

Octavian smiled and went back to what he had been doing - driving Marcus out of his mind.  By the time he was up to full speed, Marcus was hard again.  It was going to be one of those nights when Marcus would need finished off after he was done but that was fine with him.  They couldn't always go at the same time.  He finally came, arching his back to get as deep as he could.  Then he panted, nearly collapsing across his lover's back.  "Did I hurt you?"

"You haven't yet," Marcus assured him, pulling him around to hold him.  He checked their boy, who was still not touching himself.  "Come here, Alexandrus."  He hurried over, letting him undo the binding strap he wore.  The small key to it was around his throat.  He had been good tonight by not releasing it.  He got him undone then pointed.  "Take care of that for me?"  His boy grinned and went to do that for him, making him moan and go limp as the warm mouth worked its magic around him.  He finally came and floated on a haze of pleasure.  It was so nice.  He could sleep with his mate and boy in here without having to worry.

Octavian pulled their boy up, gently stroking him.  "Finish off, Alexandrus."  He came on command, having held it most of the day.  That got a smile and he relaxed on his free side, letting him be held tonight.  Octavian petted him gently, falling asleep that way.  It was a good night.


Alexandrus smiled at their guests the next morning as he brought in the juice.  "They're already out on their rounds of their troops," he excused.

"Do they bunk here?" Delphi asked.

"No, they're in the next town over.  They have the whole town to themselves."  The young man smiled.  "It's about a half-hourglass walk to get there.  That way they have a good reason to protect this border from everyone and everything that could harm the kingdom."  He settled into his seat with a smile.  "What did you want to see today?  I can take you to the marketplace or out on a tour, or even over to that town if you wanted.  I asked and General Octavian said it'd be fine.  They were doing drills today with the spears and pike corps."

"I wouldn't mind seeing the market.  Will we have problems?" Astora asked.

"You shouldn't.  They know me there so any problems should be quickly solved.  There's someone there who can do gold conversion or whatever you needed as well since it's on one of the trade roads."  That got a smile from all three of them.  "There's a few nice shops and perhaps we can find something good for dinner tonight.  If not, I've got to help in the garden.  I do *wonderfully* with some of the plants."

"We'll follow you down there after we've let breakfast settle," Delphi said happily.  The boy beamed.  "Are you eating with us?"

He giggled.  "No."  He stood up.  "You eat.  I've been up for hours now."  He walked off, going to handle anything that might come up until then, telling Greela that they were going to the market with the guests.  She gave him a short list to look for and price for her later shopping.  He went to make sure his hair was braided neatly then found his sandals about the same time as they found him.  "Did you want to walk or ride?  It's not a long walk.  About a quarter-hour-glass if you're slow."

"Then we'll walk," Antonius said happily, taking his arm to walk with him.  "List for the cook?"  He grinned and nodded.  "Are we shopping?"

"Pricing."  He grinned.  "That way she knows who's going to make her take something for her headache later.  She doesn't like to haggle."  That got a laugh and a nod.  "So, what are your markets like at home?"

"The main one's probably like yours.  Tents when travelers come in.  Some mild haggling.  Some local crafts on the rest day."  That got a nod.  "When is your rest day?"

"Three days.  The army's going to be over for a rest day picnic as well that day."  That got a smile and a nod.  He looked back at the happy couple holding hands and chatting quietly then at him, leaning closer.  "Am I being too forward?"

"No," he promised with a smile.  "Be yourself.  We wanted to learn of your people."  That got a nod and a smile.  "So, how did you come to serve the two generals?"

"Long ago, back when I was barely into my manhood, General Marcus was coming to claim our village.  We had just been through a sickness and no one wanted to fight so the town's elders offered me or one of the remaining village girls to him and willingly signed the scroll saying we'd join with his kingdom.  He tried to protest but the head of the village decided it would be bad luck and I was a show of good faith."

"A sickness?"

"It came for many of the women and children," he said quietly, looking down.  "We found out later that someone had caused it on purpose among us but never a good reason why."  He looked at him.  "General Marcus found that out and put out a hunt order for whoever had done it."  That got a smile from the other slave.  "But he did bring me home."  He grinned shyly, then glanced back then at him.  "He rode me home behind him and told General Octavian, who didn't really like the idea but I think I've proved helpful to them.  I handle a lot of the ordinary things so they aren't bothered plus I keep them stress-free as much as I can.  How did you?  I take you as being from a higher family."

"Who didn't like that I wouldn't willingly obey them and their desires for my future with the temple.  I didn't want to be castrated."  Alexandrus gave him a horrified look.  He nodded.  "So I slipped off.  They declared me without family or name.  Someone captured me a few weeks later and I was sold.  They've been good to me."  Alexandrus gave him a squeeze.  "It's been good.  I'm happier now."

"I am too.  I'm not working the farm and having babies every few weeks."  That got a laugh.  "I'm not.  I would be if I were still there."  He looked back.  "From the top of the hill you can see the town," he called.  They both nodded and he paused so they could catch up and look with him.  "It's not much but it's a very nice town.  There's only ever a few problems and both generals are very quick about fixing anything like that."

"It sounds like they do a good job managing the area," Astora told him, patting him on the shoulder.  "Where to first?"

"I have to price some fruits but other than that I usually wander and see if there's anything new."  He grinned and led the way down there, leading them to the fruit stalls first.  "Pricing for Greela."  He handed over the list, getting a grunt but the head producer wrote down the current prices.  "Thank you."  He walked off and went to the other one, letting him do the same thing, which would mean he'd undercut the other one.  That got stuffed inside his belt pouch and they walked on so he could show them what they had locally.  "This is a local herb," he said, pointing at one. "It's good for fevers or blisters.  Greela makes a good poultice for blisters for the new people in the unit."  That got a nod and a smile so he led them on.  "These are made by one of the local temples," he said, pointing at some rather crude baskets.  "They're not meant for much but they're good for small projects, like holding sewing and things."  He moved them to another set of baskets.  "These are done by the local maidens to prove that they're good at it."  Astora picked one up to look at it, getting a smile from the seller.  "These are visitors stopping over on their way to a diplomatic visit," he said quietly.

"I won't gouge them on the price, Alexandrus."  The boy beamed at him.  "I do take reasonable offers."  He pulled up a few different sizes, earning some smiles for the very tiny, delicate ones.  "My younger daughter does those with her knitting needles to form the spaces and patterns.  She's getting ready to be married in a few months."

"Tell her she has our blessings on a happy union," Delphi said.  "Those are sweet.  How much?"

"One copper each."

She looked at them then at him.  "This one has a broken reed."  He looked then grimaced.  "Two for the price of one?"  He nodded and let them pay for it, smiling as they walked off.  The slave winked at him because that had been a small discount.  They walked on and she smiled at some of the local cloths and yarns.  "I've never seen that color."  She stopped to look at one.  "What makes that dye?"

"The same thing that's good for blisters," Alexandrus said happily. "It grows all over the hills and you come out dyed that color too.  I had to do some boots once.  I was the same color for nearly a month.  General Octavian was *not* happy with me."

"You there," a female voice shouted.  "What are you doing wandering around?" she demanded.

Alexandrus looked at her.  "I'm showing my masters' guests around the market, as they asked."

"I think you've run away."  She stepped closer.  "Which means you're fair game."  She grabbed for his hair but he punched her.  "You....  Husband!"

"Do not touch what General Octavian binds each morning," he growled.  Her husband came over.  "General Octavian himself binds my braid and she has no business touching it or grabbing it."

"Did you hit her?"

"After she grabbed me for no reason.  She's accusing me of things again."

"Still, you should not hit her."

"I'd rather he hit her before I hit her," Marcus said from behind him.  He flinched.  "Is there a problem with my boy taking our guests around to show them how *most* of our people are nice?"  The headman started to splutter and shake his head.  "Your wife needs help.  She's tried to claim him many times when we've sent him on household errands.  If she wants a boy that badly, buy her one."  The headman bowed and hurried off, his wife being drug.  He looked at his slave.  "Next time no hitting," he ordered.

"Yes, sir."  He looked down.  "She grabbed my hair."

"I know, it was wrong of her.  You still can't hit them."  He tipped his boy's face up.  "Though it was a nice punch.  It shows that you've been taking your training seriously."  He kissed him on the forehead.  "Now, let's finish showing them around.  What did Greela want?"  He handed over the list and got a nod.  "We can do that."  He went to get his own basket and do the shopping with Antonius, letting his boy show the other two around.

"Sorry," he said quietly.

"No, I'd have hit her too," Delphi said with a small shrug and a smile.  "She had no business trying to claim you when you're clearly bound to another."  He patted him on the back.  "How much does this dyed yarn usually go for?"

Alexandrus gave him a sheepish grin.  "These are the generals' guests.  They're visiting before they head on to see the King."

"I've heard from the messenger."  He smiled at them.  "I'll go easy today and let you have it for a mere ten coppers a foot."

Alexandrus snorted.  "I can weave it, dye it, and then sew it for less than that.  And I can't sew."  The shopkeeper burst out laughing.  "Be nice to the nice diplomats.  They're taking it home to show their people so they know we're nice and decent folks too."

He nodded.  "Five?"

"Two?" Astora suggested, fingering some. "It would look nice at the Summer celebration and I will need something new for the upcoming celebrations for the king's new daughter."  She smiled at him.


"Two and a half?"

The seller looked at her.  "Three."

"Three I could take," she admitted, shaking on it then paying for it.  She smiled.

Her husband grinned.  "She's always looking for new clothes," he told him.  The seller laughed and they walked on with their package of fabric and yarn.  They found a few other things then found General Octavian staring down the headman and his wife.  "Oops."

Alexandrus handed everything over and rushed over.  "I won't hit her again.  Please, General, don't hurt her," he begged.

Octavian looked at him.  "You hit her?"  He nodded, looking down.  "Why did you hit her?"

"She grabbed the braid which you do every morning."

"Hmm."  He looked at the wife, who was now pale, hands on his hips, staring at her.  "You know very well he's not leaving us or running away.  Even if he did, you'd have no right to claim more than a reward for bringing him back.  We have every right to send him out on errands.  Last time you bruised him.  I think this time it's fair he bruised you.  Don't you?" he asked coolly, getting instant head nods.  "I'll not hear of more problems, will I?"  They both shook their heads.  "I had better not."  He kissed Alexandrus on the forehead.  "How goes the shopping for Greela?"

"General Marcus took her list," he said with a small smile.  "I'm sorry.  I reacted without thinking."

"As was proper you defended yourself from an attack.  I was *most* upset that you were so badly bruised last time."  He walked him off, taking him back to the two guests, smiling at them.  "Sorry you had to see that."

"Not an issue.  Everywhere are people who want what isn't theirs," Delphi reminded him gently.  That got a smile and a nod.  "I think I saw Antonius in the fruit stall with the sweet fruit we had this morning.  Shall we pick him up or is there more to the market?"

"Only if you wanted to visit some of the darker stores," Octavian admitted.  He walked them that way, chatting about what they had found.  "No brushes?" he asked Alexandrus, who shook his head.  "Hmm.  Usually this time of year we see a lot of new brushes made from the local grasses.  They do very well when you paint."  That got a smile and a nod.  He found Marcus sampling and took the bite in his fingers to taste, moaning.  "We're having this tonight for dinner?"

Marcus smiled and nodded.  "We can but there's one sweeter."

"I like a bit of tart with my sweet."  He let Astora taste as well, making her moan and grab her husband.  "Get that."  He smiled at the shopkeeper.  Then at Antonius.  "You have a good haul already.  Need help carrying?"

"It's not that heavy," he said happily, covering the fruit with a damp cloth to keep it free of dust and bugs.  Marcus paid and took the new basket, which Alexandrus snatched to carry.  He grinned at him.  "Are there more booths?"

"Sometime before you leave there should be a caravan in," Octavian admitted. "There's been one heading this way for the last week.  They broke a wheel recently from what I heard."  He led the group off, taking them back to the house.   He smiled at Marcus.  "I had that long-overdue talk with them."

"As did I."

"Good.  Do you think it helped?"

"I think we embarrassed them in front of their people," Alexandrus said quietly, looking at them.  Antonius took the basket when he tripped on a rock.  "Oops."

"Watch where you're going.  You know you hate it when we have to clean injuries on you," Marcus said patiently.  He took the basket back.  "Perhaps that bit of embarrassment will keep them from doing it again.  She knew better."

"She did," Octavian said, staring at their boy.  "Don't trip.  You hate cleaning wounds."  He nodded, turning back around to watch where he was going.  He smiled at their guests.  "The last time he got a simple scrape we nearly had to tie him down to clean it out.  He hates being taken care of at times."

"Really?  I would've expected him to like it since he takes such good care of you."

"That's my job," Alexandrus reminded her gently with a smile.  "Not for them to take care of me."

"If they don't, then you can't take care of them," Antonius rejoined.

Delphi laughed.  "There speaks the one who protested when we complained he had sprained his shoulder badly enough that he couldn't use it," he reminded him.

"It was only sore."

"It needed bandaged," she said firmly, staring at him.

Octavian smiled and laughed a bit.  "It sounds like they are highly alike in some ways."  The two diplomats nodded at that.  The slaves just smiled.

"A mere scrape does not keep me from helping them.  Even a broken limb would not," Alexandrus pointed out.  "They would fuss more than I would about it."

Marcus gave him a look.  "You're getting checked for bruises later."  The boy pouted but nodded.  "Do you want to confess to any?"

"I got hit during practice this morning when a tree limb fell," he said sheepishly.  "No bruises though."

"We'll see in a bit," Octavian assured him, earning another set of delighted laughs.  "We don't want anyone to think we beat him, even though there are moments."  Alexandrus gave him such a hurt look.  "You're going to trip again."  He got pouted at too but the boy turned back around and took his basket back.  He and Marcus shared a look.  They'd make him quit once they got home.


Three weeks later, the worst thing happened. There had been news of an invader from the North.  No one was sure who it was but Octavian took his troops out to head that way, just in case.  Marcus was a day behind so they weren't going to be together, but they'd be within helping distance if the invader made it that far.  By the time Octavian's troops made it to their appointed spot, the invading army had already taken it over and was waiting on them.  He made his soldiers attack, which was more than loud enough to alert any other troops nearby that they needed help.  Marcus' troops had made good time so they managed to save his troops and drive the invader off some.  They decided to fall back to a more defensible town, finding Alexandrus had come up to help them.  Marcus gave him a dirty look when he walked in.

"Hush!  You need me here.  Besides, if you're going to die so am I."  He put down food and wine then went to check on the healers.  He could bandage very well and it was always needed after a battle.  He was walking toward the healing tents when he saw someone sneaking through the trees, grabbing one of the guards.  "Is that ours?" he asked, pointing.

The guard sounded the alarm.

The troops came out.

Into an encircling ambush.

Alexandrus found himself and his commanders in front of their future king.  He was not happy.  He was not going to let his masters die either.  The 'king' was pacing back and forth, ranting and raving.  He stood up, staring at him, no matter how much his masters grabbed him.  "My masters are loyal to their people.  The king may change but the people of the country don't.  Killing them and their troops serve no purpose other than to prove to our people that you have no right to be ruling them and no reason to protect them.  Within a year you'll be deposed by an uprising."  He stared him down.  "Killing the troops and my masters have nothing to do with your grand plans.  All it is is a statement that you can be tough against those who threaten your rule.  If you're that threatened by people protecting their homes and villages, then no one's going to trust you."  He felt Octavian grab his braid and pull but he struggled until he was standing again.  "Killing us only proves you're one of those who get beaten by the priests for bullying."

The King stared at him, looking thoughtful.  "Would your masters serve me?"

"They serve the people of their country.  The king may change but the people do not.  They serve their troops and that is their chain of command.  To protect the people of the land."

The new king considered that, looking at them.  "If I spared you, would you serve me faithfully?  Would your men?"

"That would depend on how you rule," Marcus said calmly.  "Sit," he snapped.  Alexandrus let out a small whimper but knelt beside him again.  Octavian did his punishments when he earned one but he had just upset Marcus horribly.  "He apologizes."

"No he doesn't," the king said dryly.  "Some slaves are like dogs protecting their charges.  It's good that he's loyal.  The real question is are you as loyal as he is?"

Octavian looked at him.  "I serve the people.  The people are my troops.  We protect our people no matter what.  Killing us serves no purpose and leaves you no leaders but your own for expanded troops."

"Yes, but I trust mine," he pointed.  He waved and a female came forward.  "I have a solution to this.  I'll spare your men, but you three are going to leave this land."

"Let us have time to pack a bag of things for survival," Marcus agreed.  "As long as you leave them living."

"Well, all but a few."  He stared at them.  "You see, I've heard some of them did some rather bad things recently."  He had his men pull them out.  "What say you about that?"

Octavian looked then at him.  "The one in the chest bandages has done nothing wrong.  The others have been punished severely each time they do misdeeds."

"I heard he kidnaped and raped a young woman then rode off with her," the king said.

Alexandrus snorted.  "His wife was sold to him by her father and she does not like her new family; we have mediated many times for them," he said coolly.  "If it came from her, then you now know why."  He looked at the other one.  Then at him.  "The other two I've seen do bad things to their people.  I've turned them in.  If it would spare the rest of the troop, then they should be punished."

"Wise words for someone so young."  The female came closer.  "You won't have to pack a bag."  Marcus glared at him.  "There's things my people can do to send you away safely."

"We should still be able to have something from this life to remember it by," Octavian told him.

"You won't need it where you're going."

Alexandrus stood up again.  "That's barbaric."  The king sneered.  "For that matter, those gateways often don't work."  Everyone stared at him.  "Yes, I do know of them.  I also know how my people died."  He grabbed a knife off one of the guards and stabbed her, leaning down to stare into her eyes.  "For my mother and sisters, witch."  He stood up and walked over her, looking at the king.  "We'd rather ride into the desert with a pack of things."  He knelt again and felt the hit to the back of his head.  He knew he was in for it.  He was going to be punished for weeks for this even though it was worth it.  "She was the one who nearly killed all my village for fun.  I would not have my people under her command.  She'd kill the rest of them."

The king looked at his former witch then at him.  "I can do those same gateways."

Alexandrus shrugged.  "Who says they'll work on us?"

"They do on us and we're not that dissimilar," he pointed out dryly.

"You'd be surprised.  After all, I survived her attack and I was one of the few who didn't get sick at all."  The king looked stunned.  "What makes you think your fancy magic will work on me?"

"I can kill you."

"If it saves my masters death then so be it," he said, staring at him.  "I'm not afraid of you."

The king laughed.  "You have one very protective slave," he told the generals.

"Who will be spanked later," Octavian muttered just loud enough for Alexandrus to hear him.  His slave nodded at that.  As long as they lived it was worth the punishment.

"You will be going with them.  Your tongue could start a revolt against me.  I can't have that any more than I can have an heir of the old line."

"So you kill a newborn girl?" Alexandrus asked dryly.  "Feel good about that?"  Marcus got him this time.  "It's the truth!  He's no more a man than a monster if he could knowingly kill a newborn while staring at it."  He stared at him.  "I'll gladly go so I'm not near your selfish ways.  As I said, let me pack a bag."

The king laughed but Alexandrus stabbed him with the same knife.  No one had thought to take it away from him.  He stared up at him in shock and the slave handed the knife to his master.  "How?" he said weakly.

"Never underestimate loyalty."  He knelt again, mumbling a prayer.  Someone new came walking up, well stomping.  He stared at him.  "You think you're next?"

"I'm his son," he admitted, considering them.  He looked at Marcus, who he took to be the higher general.  "Your troops will be spared.  One of your people shall take your place with a co-leader of my own choosing.  Who?"

"Brandis," he said, pointing at one man.  "He's a good man with sound tactical skills and the troops will follow him.  He's been our second-in-command for years."

"Thank you."  He stared at them.  "I do think you three are too dangerous to us."  He looked at his father then at the slave.  "She took out your village?"

"Most of the women and the children, some of the older men."

"Then she earned her death."  The slave tipped his head at that.  "You're still very dangerous to me."

"Give me enough time to pack a few reminders and I'll gladly leave."

"I still like the gateway idea.  It will work on you.  I know it will.  I am stronger than my father and I did move most of a troop down here."  Octavian gaped at that.   It was unheard of even for the strongest of witches as far as they knew.  "As for the king's daughter, no, she's not dead.  My wife is raising her as our child.  Some of us aren't monsters."

"Then you'll care for our people?" Marcus asked.  He got a nod in answer.  "All of them?"

"All of them.  After all, it appears your boys are raised smart and strong; even those that are sold off."

"He was given so we would not harm the village your people tried to take over," Marcus said quietly.  "As a tithe, without prompting."

"Hmm.  Interesting."  He considered it then nodded.  "You'll be going.  Those two will be hung for their crimes."  Alexandrus stood up.  "You want to do it?"

"Hanging is barbaric.  Let them do it by their own hand."

He considered it.  "That is more honorable.  So be it.  If they wish not to be hung, they may have a single knife between them.  Not enough to defeat us or escape, but enough to send themselves off."  That got a nod.  He looked at the slave.  "You'll be going with your masters."

"If it works."

"It will work."  He nodded and had them drug up while he went to prepare the gateway.  They had a mobile arch they used for such things.  He concentrated, bringing it to life.  He waited while it focused then had the slave pulled up.  "It will work," he said, trying to shove him through.  It didn't work.  He gaped at him.  Alexandrus gave him a look.  "Fine, follow your masters since you fight."  He had them shoved through and the boy followed more willingly that time.  He shut it down and looked at the rest of the troops.  "Obedience or that fate," he said firmly.  "I will not harm your people.  The slave had good points."  He looked at the new commander.  "Get your troops settled for the night.  I'll introduce you to your co-commander within an hour of dark.  Then we'll see how loyal to your people you are."  He nodded and they were led to an area they could camp in but be watched.  He wasn't going to trust them for a very long time but wasting a well-trained military unit made no sense either.  He could turn them to his side with some proper incentives and treatment.  Dictators got overthrown.  Good kings got lauded and worshiped.


May 1999


Horatio Caine looked up as Mac Taylor walked out onto the porch to join him.  They had just wrapped up a joint case and it was time to relax, renew their friendship, calm down.  Mac had two beers and he took his with a smile.  "Thank you."

"Welcome."  He took the first drink then sat down in one of the loungers.  "Have you had...odd dreams recently?"

"Hmm."  He sat down, putting his feet up.  "A few.  Why?"

"Any of us leading an ancient military troop?"  Horatio stiffened and stared at him.  "Since the first time we worked together, right?"

"Since I saw you at a convention years ago," he admitted quietly.  He took another drink.  "Why, Mac?"

"Because I wanted to know I wasn't the only one," he told him.  He took another drink.  "What do you see?"

"Battles.  A home with us and a servant boy.  Riding with our troops to conquer something."

"Alexandrus," Mac said quietly, staring at his beer.  Then he looked at the redhead across from him.  "Horatio?"

Horatio looked back.  He shrugged a bit.  "I don't know, Mac.  It could be something I suppose.  I have no idea what.  None of the uniforms were found in any of the history books I've looked in."

"Me either."  He took another drink.  "What about that last battle?"

"The witch and the king and the son?"  He shuddered.  "Something about that final blast of light...."  He trailed off and took another drink.  "You think we got sent here?"  Mac nodded.  "From where?"

"I don't know.  I doubt it matters."  He took a longer drink then put the bottle down.  "Right now I'm wondering about a few other things."

"The boy?" he teased with a smile.

"Not just him."  He stood up and walked over, staring down at Horatio, watching his eyes darken.  "Definitely not just him."  Horatio growled.  "Or would that bother you?"

"I don't know."

"Then let's try an experiment and see."  He leaned down and slowly kissed his friend, making him moan.  He pulled back, staring at him again.

Horatio put down his beer and pulled Mac down to kiss him again.  "You started it."

"You want top or bottom?" he teased with a smile.

"Never done one."

"Me either.  It was like I was waiting."  He kissed him again, gently, taking control this time.  Horatio took it back and their lips wrestled for control of the kiss.  Finally they pulled back, both panting a bit.  "Inside?"

"Inside," Horatio agreed.  They got up and finished their beers on the way to the bedroom.  Mac got them both undressed and Horatio smoothed his hands over the firm chest in front of him.  "Strength but gently coiled for now."  He looked at him.  "Marcus, such a good leader."

"And Octavian, used to giving pleasure but making you take pleasure is always sweeter," he said with a smile, kissing him again.  Horatio fought for control but Mac won this time, ending it by pushing him onto the bed.  "Stuff?  Before we get so desperate we'll use anything?"

Horatio smiled and pointed.  "There's some supplies.  Not many.  I don't often have people over."

"Me either.  Though everyone seems to think I'm dating Stella for some reason, or Danny."

"Danny's cute but you'd drive each other insane."

"Very true."  He leaned down to kiss him again, taking a moment to find the lube or whatever Horatio had said he had.  It got put in plain sight and then he went back to wooing his other half.  Horatio was warm, firm steel beneath his hands.  "You've lost more weight," he complained gently, nibbling on one of his shoulders.

"We never close."  He hissed and arched up at the bite.  "Alexx has been fussing," he admitted, hearing the laugh.  Mac was going to drive him insane by doing that.  He tried to flip them over but Mac out-massed him and he was going to be pleased even if he wanted to be the one doing the pleasing this time.  Mac moved further down his body, teasing and testing his responses, finding the spots that made him growl or whimper.  He nearly choked when Mac went for his cock but it felt too good to die from choking.  So very good.  A warm, wet, soft cave around his aching cock.  Something he needed.  "Mac, not while you're doing that."

Mac pulled off to look at him.  "Want me to get you off first and then prepare you?"

Horatio smiled.  "How about we stick with blows tonight and then move to that tomorrow?  After a hot shower, a good breakfast?"

"I like that idea."  He went back to driving Horatio insane, listening to the non-verbal responses.  The hint of growl at one move.  The moan of pleasure at another.  Horatio was stroking through his hair but he was going to make him beg soon.  He did something he remembered from one of the dreams, making Horatio gasp and arch up, then suddenly come, making him laugh while he swallowed.   He came up to kiss him, letting Horatio have him now.

Horatio stared at him.  "No fair using the old memories against me, Mac."

Mac just smirked.  "All's fair in love, Horatio."

Horatio kissed him.  "Too true."  He went down to play with him.  Teasing the usual spots but focusing on the rest to find other spots that turned him to mental goo.  He found a good one on his stomach, off to the side of his navel.  Another one was found on his upper thigh and Horatio exploited that one until Mac swore at him.  He laughed and kissed the hard cock next to his cheek, looking up at him.  "Desperate are we?"  He moved to tease it with his tongue, tracing the veins, making the separation between head and pole tingle by gently nipping it.  Mac moaned and arched up.  "I have you, Mac."  He went back to playing and Mac growled so Horatio moved down to suck him finally.  Mac's growl went up a key so he did it again, going down a bit further.  He couldn't deep throat him but he could tease and play with him.  He was all his now.  Mac yelped at one unkind bite but Horatio got what he wanted from it.  Mac was going insane under him.  He finally came and Horatio licked him clean, going up to kiss him.  "We don't have to hide," he said between kisses.

"Not anymore."  He pulled back to look at him.  "Does that mean you want to find the boy?"

Horatio considered it then nodded.  "I do.  You?"

"I could enjoy that.  Where do we start?"  He pulled Horatio closer, cuddling next to him.

"We're CSIs, Mac, surely we can find one young man."  He kissed the flesh he was laying on and sighed in pleasure.  "Want bottom in the morning?"

"I'll have you then you have me?"

Horatio smiled.  "I could appreciate that."  He snuggled in better and they drifted off together.  It was a happy night.  The odd dreams didn't come back but it was soothing enough anyway.


Horatio looked at his computer person.  "I need you to quietly run a DMV search for me," he said, shutting the door once Mac was inside.

"Sure, boss, who am I looking for?"

Horatio put down the picture he had done with the software that let witnesses describe who they saw while someone selects the right sort of features.  "He looks like this."

"Okay."  He scanned that in and started it running.  "Anything else that could narrow it down?  There's gonna be thousands of them."

"Dark hair, brown eyes," Mac told him.  "Young, late teens probably."  That got a nod and it was input as well.  "Used to go by Alexandrus.  So something along those lines."

He input that as well and looked at him.  "Should I page you or holler?"

"It's a friend's child," Horatio said quietly.  "Page us."  That got a nod and they walked out together to talk in his office.  They had some things that needed to be talked about.  He closed them in and sat down, looking at Mac.  "How are we going to bridge this city gap?"

"Beyond vacations?"  He settled himself down on the uncomfortable couch.  "I don't know, Horatio.  We'll figure it out."  Horatio smiled at that.  "I know I've asked my boss for a few more days citing something new that your people have come up with that I need to see if we can use.  I have about a month of leave time at the moment."

"I have about two," Horatio said, looking at his phone.  "It shouldn't take that long."

"Relax.  We'll find him.  He can't be any younger than when he was given to us," he said quietly.

"That was fifteen."

"In most states you can get a learner's permit if not an actual license at fifteen.  If he's here, he's in the DMV.  He'd like to drive.  He liked to ride before."

Horatio nodded, making himself relax.  "How long are we staying?"

"Until we can fly out to find the boy."  He smiled and Horatio smirked back.  "Think he'll have the same sort of flashes?"

"If we both did, he must have."  He saw someone walking toward his door.  "There's Eric."  He waved him inside.  "New case?"

"Problems with one of the machines."  He handed over the report.  "It's not possible, it's not a good response and I got it when I tested with something different that should've come up salt."

"Can we recalibrate it?"

"We're working on it," Eric promised.  "It's going to take a few hours so we're without that lab."

"Work around it, get back to it as soon as you can."  He handed back the report.  "Make sure you clean the intake as well.  It could be something that dropped."  Eric nodded, glancing at Mac.  "He's taking a few days off and we're about to hunt someone else down if we can find them."

"Sure.  Let us know who's in charge."  He went to do what they had been doing anyway.  Horatio looked so calm and mellow this morning.  It was good for him to have friends over for a vacation.  He saw Horatio and Mac come jogging down the stairs and go into computers, shaking his head.  "Must've found them."  He got back to work, calling Calleigh.  "It's me.  Horatio's still got Mac in on a vacation and he said he might be taking a few days soon."  He saw them walk past the door with a printout.  "Horatio?"

"Speed's in charge.  We'll be back in a few days," he called as they walked off.

"Okay."  He went back to the phone.  "He said Speed's in charge.  We should probably tell him that since he's somewhere today."  He grinned.  "Recalibrating a machine that was giving funny answers.  Sure, I'm here."  He hung up and called Speed.  "Horatio and Mac just walked out to find someone they both know.  He said you're in charge."  He hung up and got back to work, ignoring the fact that his buddy had sworn at him.  He did that and you just had to ignore him when he was in that sort of mood.  Otherwise you ended up pouting at him and Speed hated when you pouted at him.  Then he'd swear at you more.


Horatio found the building they needed and looked at Mac.  "There's still lights on."  Mac nodded and they got out, heading for the area with lights.  It was after nine at night on a Tuesday.  Though something was making his skin crawl about this place.  They found the room with lights and glanced in first.  There was a young man in there and Horatio *knew* what he was doing.  "Damn it," he muttered.  They walked in.  "Alexander."

The boy stared at him and they could see he was having a flashback.

He could clearly see himself being walked into the nice villa by the dark-haired one.  "He was a present from that last village.  They've had a sickness and said he was a sign of good faith."

The redheaded general looked at the boy then at him.  "We have servants."

"I'm good at things," the boy told him quietly, not looking at his face.

"One of them is clearly not bathing," Octavian said dryly.

"It was a long ride," Marcus said, scowling at him.  "Most of his village had a sickness and he was one of the few who didn't.  He's also the headman's younger son.  He's probably learned how to handle administrative things."

"We'll see.  Get him cleaned up, Marcus."  He looked at the boy, then at him.  "He's how old?"

"Old enough," the boy said, glaring at him.  "More than old enough."

Marcus swatted him on the head.  "Don't talk back to him.  If you're staying we're both your masters."  He looked at his lover, earning a smirk.  "He's got a strong mind.  If he was some meal-minded young heathen I'd have sent him on with the promissary scroll."

"Fine.  Clean him up and we'll see what he can do around here."  He watched the boy be walked off, considering him.  He was young, barely into his manhood, and strong of will at the very least.  He might make a good guard or they could probably free him and put him into their troops somewhere.  He went back to the manifests and orders he had to deal with at the moment.  An hour later he was done and he went to search his lover out, finding him finally clean of dust and dirt, but the slave was still in the baths.  "Should I jump in and scrub him?"

"He's been scrubbing," Marcus said, glaring at him.  "Ease off him.  They're a farming village."

"So dirt was his life."

The boy stared at him.  "While I have a good hand with the young plants, I've never been the one out there digging and planting.  I do better cultivating those things that get put into pots to grow some before they're planted, sir."  He got back to his bath.  "Besides, it's not like we could bathe on the way here and it was four days ago that we left.  I'm allowed a bit of travel dirt."

"You have a very strong mouth," Octavian said, looking amused.  He looked at Marcus then at him.  "Can you cook?"

The boy turned to look at him.  "I have had to.  My mother was killed during the sickness and my older brother has his own family to deal with.  I fed myself and my father for months before General Marcus showed up."

"Can you fight?" Octavian asked.

"I've never tried."  He got back to scrubbing.  He didn't want to make a bad impression but this one was trying to make him lose his temper.  He finally got the arm he was working on fully clean and moved to another body part.  He heard the gentle splash of someone joining him and looked over.  "I don't need someone to scrub me like I'm some babe.  I'm doing well enough," he said, backing away from him.

"I'm not going to hurt you.  I'm going to help with your back."  He turned the boy around, letting him deal with his back and hair.  "Did you wash this or simply oil it?"

"I washed it but your soap isn't very strong.  I'm used to homemade soaps," he said quietly.  "I'll wash it again at the end to make sure it's clean, then do one last scrub."

"Fine."  He found a brush and the soap floating nearby, getting to work on his back.  He was going to get him clean even if he had to make him regrow skin.

"Some of that is from the sun," the boy reminded him.  "I do work outside."  He got swatted for it and hung his head.  "I'm sorry."

"It's new to you.  We'll give you some leeway but you'll learn respect," Octavian told him.

The boy turned to face him.  "I can't respect those I do not know and those who haven't earned it yet.  The other general was decent to me on the road.  He didn't treat me like some barbarian's prize and use me as a wench from some inn."  Octavian stared at him but nodded.  "Until I know you better, I can't make that decision."  He turned back around.  "Forgive me but I learned to judge men on their actions, not their stations.  Some of the highest of the high are as evil as the worst who kill for no reason."

"They can be," Octavian agreed.  He got back to work on his back, being a bit more gentle this time.  Some of the dirt was clearly grown into his skin.  Though the tan that was coming out under the road grime was very nice.  He finally got his back done and moved down to his rear with the brush, making him jump.  "Quit."

"That's not dirty."

"Really?"  He went back to scrubbing him, much to Marcus' amusement since he was laughing.  "Did you see him unclothed?"

"That didn't look dirty to me either, Octavian.  He's young and a former farmer.  If there's dirt there it'll come out over the next few days of bathing."  He came down to get into the water and help the boy.  He was scrubbing himself into redness.  He took the brush and did it for him, earning a few winces.  "Sore?"  The boy nodded.  "Why?"

"Unfamiliar activity."  He took the smaller brush back and moved off.  "I'm not a babe.  I'm a full-grown man.  I can bath myself but I thank you for your help, Generals."  He got to work on his legs, wincing when his hair was grabbed.

"We'll have to make him grow this out, Marcus.  It's a good handhold while his mouth runs."

"I don't mind his spirit.  It proves he's not feeble minded."  He made Octavian let him go.  "He's new," he said quietly.  "Gentle him as you would your mare."  That got a nod and they went to help the boy some more but he ducked away again.  "You're getting helped, boy."

He looked at him.  "I don't need the help.  Thank you anyway."  He went back to scrubbing and working on his legs.  Really there wasn't that much dirt but he'd scrub himself if he had to so they'd leave him alone.  Octavian grabbed him by the hair again, making him duck and turn to face him once he was free.   They stared at each other until Octavian laughed.

"He'll do."  He turned him back around, pinning him to the edge of the bathing pool.  "There.  Now we can work on that dirt of yours."  He went back to his back, finding that nothing new was coming off.

"That's where the sun has touched his flesh," Marcus reminded him.  Though he did see how Octavian was gently stroking him and getting him used to their touches.  The boy knew what punishment was, it was very obvious, but he would take some gentling.  "I do think he should grow his hair out further."

"That means there's more to worry about and stick to you when you get hot," Alexandrus pointed out quietly.  "It's inconvenient in the fields."

"We don't own a field," Octavian told him.  The boy stiffened at that.  "We'll find some use for you around the house."  He let him go and watched him finish up then redo his hair before a final swipe with the brushes.  Then he got out and they could see how well built he was.  He could tell his mate was longing for him as well.  "Tell me, do you have a name?"

"All creatures have a name.  Mine's Alexandrus."

"Good to know," Octavian said.  He stared at him.  "You serving us would make you flinch?"

He looked at him.  "Wouldn't that depend on how you use me?"  He finished drying off and looked at his clothes then Marcus.  "Did you want me to wear something specific, General?"

"There's a spare outfit."  He got out and walked the boy back to their suite, letting him have the clothes he wanted him in.  The boy slid into them and buckled the belt then stared  at him.  "You have to obey the other one as well," he warned.

"I trust you not to harm me.  You promised my people you wouldn't.  We know you have honor.  I know nothing about him other than he likes to bruise my flesh with a brush and he likes to grab my hair."

"I won't and neither will Octavian.  For now, let us feed you."  The boy blushed.  "Come."  He led him to the kitchen, smiling at their cook.  "Greela, this is Alexandrus.  He was given to me as a tithe and a show of good faith."

She looked at the boy then sighed.  "Was his village poor?"

"No," the boy said, smiling at her.  "Farm village.  We've recently had a sickness.  I've been feeding myself and my father for a few months now."

She nodded. "No man can cook unless they're shown.  I'll let you help me until they find a place for you."  She pulled him closer to look him over.  "Can you do anything else?"

"I have a good hand with young plants in pots."

She smiled.  "Even better.  I have herbs that need tended."  She let him have some bread.  "Dinner is in an hour.  Shoo, Marcus."  He nodded, taking a snack of his own.  She looked at him.  "Octavian is picky."

"He thought the coloring the sun gave me was dirt," he said grimly.  "He doesn't like me."

"He will come to appreciate you I'm sure."  She let him help, correcting a few things he was doing but he was slightly trained in kitchen duties.  When dinner came she let him bring out the food to their masters.  Then he came back and helped her serve the others.  As the new boy, he got to eat last.

Xander shook his head, blinking hard to clear the vision.  Then he gave them a pitiful look.  "You shouldn't be here."

"I can see why," Horatio said, moving closer carefully.  "What are you doing, Alexander?"

"Just plain Xander."  He looked at the fuse he was wiring then at him.  "It's important."

"Is it?" Mac asked.  "Important enough to defend yourself to us?"

Xander stiffened and looked at him.  "Your choices are we do this or everyone dies.  Which would you rather have?" he asked, sounding a bit cool toward them. "Come back after graduation.  After Sunday."  They both stared and then shook their heads.  He sighed and chased after them, stopping them at their car.  "You have sucky timing.  Something bad is going to happen.  I have to help."  He knew they had a connection and he wanted to justify himself to them, like they were important to his soul, but he wasn't fully sure why yet.

"We can help," Horatio pointed out.

Xander looked at him.  "You don't have to help.  This is our battle."  That got a raised eyebrow.  "For that matter, Sunnydale is very dangerous after dark.  You shouldn't be here.  Come back Sunday."

Mac stared at him.  "Explain it to us."

"I can't.  Others would know and it'll get worse.  I...I wish I could but I can't.  I'd like nothing more than the military to step in and be there.  They won't be."

"I can get you help," Horatio said.

"Not for this.  Now, please?  Sunday?  Trust me that much?"

"We'll see you Sunday," Mac said.  "Where should we go?"

"As far away from Sunnydale as you can," he said, giving him a sad look.  "But come back Sunday.  Please?" he begged.  "Just give me that long?"

Mac stared at him but Horatio nodded.  "That's fine.  There was a nice hotel about an hour back.  We'll be there, Xander.  You'll be there tomorrow.  It should be safe to explain it to us."

"Fine.  If I can.  I still have crap to do tomorrow in preparation for Saturday."  That got a simple nod.  "Thank you."  He hurried back inside, going back to work.

Mac looked at him.  "We should call someone."

"I think we need to look up the town first and be here to help him when the time happens."  Mac grimaced.  "He had that fatalistic, the shit's going to hit the fan look, Mac.  He knows what's about to happen is bad."

"Fine.  We'll give him that much rope.  If not, I say we beat the boy."

"Wouldn't be the first time, would it?" Horatio joked.  He got into the car to drive.  "What do you think he flashed back to?"

"One of the punishment ones from the look on his face.  We'll have to ask."  Horatio nodded, starting the car and backing out so they could hit the hotel Horatio had told him to meet them at.  "Think he'll be there?"

"If not, we'll be at graduation," Horatio said simply.  "Then we'll find out what's that important."

"True.  I did pack a nice suit," Mac agreed.  Horatio laughed and punched him on the arm but kept driving.


Xander tapped gently on the hotel room door.  On one hand he was hoping they wouldn't hear him.  Then again, some part of him knew they would and they were aware of him when he was pacing the hall for the last ten minutes.  They were letting him make up his own mind.  The dark-haired one opened the door.  "Hi."

"Hi."  He let him inside, closing the door behind him.  He walked him over to the couch, letting the boy settle himself down.  He was skittish, but not that wary of them.  "What's going on, Xander?"  Horatio looked over and put his book down.

"We've got something bad attacking graduation.  It could end the world if we don't kill it."  He slumped, looking at them.  "You guys won't believe this but...."

"We've done some research into your town," Horatio assured him.  Xander gave him an odd look.  "With people who would tell us what was really going on."

Xander slumped again, nodding at that.  "Then you know why it's necessary.  There's no other way to kill it."

"We can still help," Mac offered.  "We know some people who would come to the battle."

"The Mayor would get news of strangers like that and it'd change his plans.  He'd change in private and then we'd have to stop him later, after he ate people."

"I can understand why it's important," Mac agreed.  "Are you sure?"

Xander looked at him.  "I... I did the battle plans, they're sound."  He wanted these two to respect him for some reason.  "What was the ancient thing?"

"Some sort of past life or something," Horatio said gently.  "We're still trying to figure that part out, Xander."  Xander nodded.  "What did you see?"

"You scrubbing me skinless."

Horatio laughed.  "I thought it might've been a punishment."  He got up and came over to sit next to the boy.  "Mac and I do the same job.  We need to get to know you a bit better."

He could see the boy drifting back into another memory.

Xander seemed to open his eyes and stare up at his ceiling.  His masters were not being very quiet.  One of them sounded like he was in pain.  It was his duty to serve them so he got up to check on them.  They were in bed and Octavian was holding Marcus down because he was thrashing.  He got them some cool water and a damp cloth, bringing it out to the bed.

Octavian looked over at him.  "Thank you, Alexandrus."  Marcus moaned.

"Do you need medicines for him, sir?"

"No.  He's not ill."  He kissed him on the head.  "I promise he's fine."  The boy blushed.  "Sleep in the corner, Alexandrus.  You can help me clean him up in a few minutes."  The boy blushed brighter but went to the soft pillows in the corner to lay back down, turning away from them.  He smiled at his lover.  "He's very thoughtful."  He thrust in again, making his husband moan.  Marcus finally came and he came after him.  He picked up the cloth, wringing it out so he could clean his mate up.  "Alexandrus?"  He looked back.  "Come help me."  He came back over, taking the cloth to help clean him up.  "Did men not touch each other in your village?"

"No, sir."  He kept his eyes on his task.  He would not stare at them.  "Only the priests do that.  I was never meant for the temple."

Octavian tipped his face up.  "I was trained at the war college.  Many men there did, even though it is not acceptable to many other men.  That is why we keep this quiet."

His slave nodded.  "I understand, sir."  He went back to his cleaning.  Octavian laid down and let him switch sides of the bed to clean him up too.  He hesitated then cleaned up his private area, making sure it was clean for him.  Then he took the bowl of water and cloth back to the bathing chamber.

"Come back," Octavian called after him. The boy nodded.  He looked at Marcus.  "He was staring at you quite heavily."

"He was trying hard not to stare," he corrected, looking at his mate.  "He's embarrassed.  I doubt he's done more than have one of the village girls."  Alexandrus came back in.  "Did you touch the village's girls?"

"Headman's sons aren't disreputable that way," he said, looking hurt.  "It would've looked bad on my father."

"So you've never touched anyone?" Octavian asked.

"I got the lessons from our priest, the same as everyone else did.  Within the year my father would've picked me two wives."  He knelt at the foot of the sleeping bed.  Octavian pointed so he shifted up onto the foot of the bed.  "My people are gentle and proper."

Marcus looked at him.  "You may not speak of this, Alexandrus."  He nodded.  "People would not be welcoming of it."

He swallowed.  "You two were loud.  I thought you injured.  Not... having babies."

"Men don't have children," Octavian said dryly.

"No but it's the same process, right?"

"In a way," Marcus agreed.  "The others know not to speak of it."

Alexandrus shrugged.  "Who would ask me?  I'm your property, they don't think I can do more than serve."

"Good point," Octavian agreed.  "We've seen your mind.  We know you know more than that."  He stared at the boy until the young one licked his lips.  "What?  I can see the gears grinding to open the drawbridge of your mouth."  Marcus swatted him.  "It can be."

"Would it not be easier to have a safe room?  Most generals fear that people would take them out to get control of their troops or to eliminate the threat when they try to invade," he said quietly.  "The priest said that most generals sleep in a windowless room that locks from the inside."

"We have such a room but it was a spontaneous thing tonight," Marcus admitted.  "Usually we would've been in there."  The boy nodded  "That is a good point and you clearly do have a mind that's had some training."

"The priest."

Octavian pulled him up to settle between them.  "What else did this priest teach you?"  He stroked over the hair he was making the boy grow out for when he was misbehaving.  "Soon I'll be able to braid this."

"You'll have to bind it if you do," Marcus said, smiling at his mate.  The boy had intrigued him the first time he had spoken back to him.  It wasn't often anyone, even the king, spoke back or argued with Octavian when he was in a serious, stubborn mood.  This one had done it repeatedly that first day and a few times since then.  He was slowly becoming more comfortable with them and starting to realize that Octavian had his ways and methods, and to fight against them usually brought a spanking.  "Leather?"

"We'll have to see."  He stroked over it again.  "Did the priest teach you how .... one would create babies?"

He shook his head.  "He said it was instinctive and I would understand when I saw her naked.  He did show me pictures of naked women to get me used to them.  He said there was no way my wife would listen to me after we were married if I blushed when I first saw her."

"Some wives would.  Especially if they were younger."  Marcus flipped onto his side, mirroring Octavian's position so he could look the boy over.  "You are very thoughtful.  That is a good trait in a lover.  To please your lover so you can get your own.  Octavian sometimes has that problem.  He expects to please others and not get any himself."

"I please myself just fine," he corrected patiently, giving his mate a look.

Alexandrus swallowed.  "I....  I would have no idea what to do with a lover now.  Before it was only to have children to work the fields."

"Here it would be for pleasure," Octavian told him.  He stared at him.  He could order the boy to please them.  He would but it would not be his idea.  He would do it but not take the joy from it.  "Would you like to help me please Marcus?  That is always acceptable to others, even where I cannot."

The boy stared at him then looked at Marcus.  He swallowed.  "He sounded like he was hurt," he said weakly.

"Those noises from him mean he is very much not in pain," Octavian assured him, stroking over his chest.  "The same as you make noises when you touch yourself."  The boy gave him a horrified look.  "The priest did not tell you that?"

"The ones who did got sick and could not work in the fields."

"Not true," Marcus assured him.  "Octavian does it quite often and he's never gotten sick from it yet."

The young man blushed very brightly and ducked his head.  "As you would have me learn, sirs."

Octavian tipped his chin up.  "I would leave this up to you, Alexandrus.  Do you want to learn?"  He let out a small whimper.  "Let us show you why?"  He nodded so he kissed him, slowly opening his mouth to coax the boy to do the same.  He wasn't bad.  They shifted down so they were laying with Marcus holding Alexandrus for him.  He slowly explored his body, letting him see what was going to happen.  The boy moaned when he touched his cock.  "See, not pained noises," he soothed, stroking it gently.

"He should be taken gently his first time," Marcus said quietly.

"Hmm.  He should be," Octavian agreed.  He leaned down to lick over the head of his cock.  The boy nearly screamed in pleasure.  "We should take this into the safe room."  That got a nod so they got up and took the boy in there.  They had special oils and things in there that would help them with this gentle project.  The boy was put onto the bed, staring at them.  "Off with the toga," he ordered.  Their boy took it off, letting them see him naked.  "Very beautiful."

"Not dirty?" he teased weakly.

"No, I cannot see any dirt," he promised with a smile, laying down beside him.  Marcus locked the door and came over to hold him again.  The boy was moaning and whimpering as he licked his cock.  "Does that please you?"

"The priest said that the Gods came down when a man came to bless him," he panted.

"Often in Marcus case," Octavian teased.  He brought him over that first time, letting Marcus help him clean up the spilled seed.  Marcus moaned at the flavor.  "I do believe he's been in the sweets again."

"He tastes good.  The extra sweets make him happy."  They shared a kiss over his body then kissed him.  The boy was limp and smiling.  "Alexandrus, do you have a choice for who gets to have you first?  Which one would pierce you?" he asked at the confused look.  He still looked confused. "Like Octavian did for me, Alexandrus.  Who do you want to have you first?"

"You brought me home."  He hesitantly reached up to stroke his cheek.  "They gave me to you."

"I know."  He kissed him.  "As you want it."  He found the oil, shifting to tease his boy while Octavian kept his mind occupied on other pleasures.  He oiled the outside of the small hole then slid a finger inside, making the boy wiggle.  "It must be slicked up."

"But that's a dirty part," he said in a near-whine.  His other general would get mad.

"Not when I touch you this way it's not," he said firmly.  The boy settled down and let him do it.  He was having fun.  The boy was extremely tight.  It was clear he hadn't ever had any pleasure from back here.  He shifted his finger further inside and found the spot he'd been looking for.  The boy yelped at that.  He laughed.  "Liked that?"

"What was that?"

"The spot that makes God bless you," Octavian said in his ear.  "It is directly linked to your pleasure."  He stroked his cock, nibbling on his boy's throat.  "You're ours now, Alexandrus."  The boy went limp.  "Good boy.  Marcus...."

"He's very tight."  He switched to two fingers and the boy moaned a bit at the stretching but he relaxed into it with Octavian's help.  It was good for them.  "Deep breath," he ordered, oiling his three fingers so he could slide them in.  The boy did whimper at that.  "Shh, it'll be better in a minute," he soothed.  His other hand was slicking himself up.  He wanted into that tightness.  The boy was spread out by Octavian for his pleasure, earning a smirk.  "Doesn't he look beautiful this way?"

"Indeed."  He took the boy's hand and put it onto his own cock.  "Stroke, Alexandrus.  Like I was."  He stroked it and the boy took over, arching into his hand.  It was making him very happy.  So happy he was going to take Marcus' spot if he didn't hurry up.  Marcus finally slid his fingers out, earning a small moan of complaint.  "Deep breath," Octavian said in his ear, stopping his hand.  "Push out when he starts to push in."  The boy took a deep breath as Marcus moved into position and slowly started to push his way inside him.  Octavian watched.  "He is very tight."

"Too much," Alexandrus whimpered.

"Push back," Octavian ordered.  His boy was doing well in his training, he did it.  Marcus's head finally slipped in and the boy whined.  Marcus slowly worked his way inside, back and forth, slowly inching in further.  "Is he very tight?"

"Tighter than I was when you took me the first time," he moaned, finally settling all the way inside.  The boy was still whimpering so he gave him a minute, leaning down to kiss him.  "Calm down.  It does get better."


"I do promise."  He pulled out and thrust back inside.  The boy's body liked that a bit more.  His next stroke he found that special spot again and it was like a lightening bolt hit the body.  It went rigid and the boy keened in pleasure.  "See?"  He did it again, shifting his weight some.  It was a good thing.  Octavian helped by pleasing their boy with his mouth again.  The boy panted, thrashed a bit, and got very loud.  "I think we'll have to teach him to be a bit more quiet."

"Probably," Octavian agreed.  "But they are nice noises.  The same as yours are."  They shared a kiss and Marcus got off with a moan.  "Hmm.  Let me help."  He helped Marcus out of their boy's body, watching him shake and whimper in loss.  "Shh, Alexandrus.  I'm here."  He shifted him onto his stomach, taking him that way.  The boy was grabbing onto the pillow.  It was so cute.  Marcus pried him off the pillow and took his rightful kisses, helping by helping the boy stroke himself.  Octavian slid in and out, not harshly but with enough force to show their boy that he'd like it that way as well.  He felt the boy come and smiled, letting himself go after a few more strokes.  They laid there cuddling their boy while he slept off his orgasms.  "He'll take to it very well."

"He does," Marcus agreed, smiling at him.  "He spoils me more rotten than you do, Octavian."

"Yes, but I'm a freeman, my husband."  He kissed him again.  "Is this pleasing for you?"

"Very."  He stroked his boy's side.  "He can come between us now and then."  Octavian nodded, settling in to sleep.  Marcus waited up until their boy woke up.  He put a finger over his mouth.  "You can bathe in the morning, Alexandrus."  He stroked over his cheek.  "You are not going to always come between us.  We do need time together, but we will show you how to pleasure us when you're allowed."

"Can I ...."  He trailed off, giving him a pitiful look.  "Do what Octavian showed me?"

"Now and then.  Not always.  Doing it too often isn't good for you either.  Moderation in all things, my boy."  He nodded.  "Now, there are things to help you with that if you want."  He gave him a confused look.  "There are ways of locking you so you can't come all day unless we allow it."  The boy whimpered.  "Also you will learn how to pleasure us as we did you.  You won't be topping either of us but you will learn how to orally please us.  How to stroke us.  All of that."

"As you will it, Master."

"That's my good boy."   He stroked his throat.  "Octavian had the nibbles.  He sucked a mark."  The boy blushed.  "You should rest.  You'll have light duties tomorrow."

"May I serve you instead of in the kitchen?"

"You may," he agreed.  "We'll be home tomorrow since it's a rest day. You can serve us breakfast then go bathe out the stiffness."  He stroked over his rear.  "We will instruct you tomorrow in how to prepare yourself for us when we want you."  He nodded, settling in against his chest.  "Good boy, Alexandrus."  He stroked him until he was asleep, then drifted off after him.  The Gods had truly blessed them with this one.  He was very special.

Xander blinked and came back.  "Um...."

Horatio smiled.  "What did you see?"

The boy blushed.  "The night I thought Marcus was in pain and he wasn't."

"Ah."  Mac stroked over the nape of his boy's neck, earning a shiver.  "If it happens it does, Xander.  I'm not going to force it this time."

Xander looked at him.  "Did you two feel this connection?"

"We did," Horatio agreed.  "We know there's carryover from it."  The boy got up to pace, looking scared.  "It won't happen unless you want it to, Xander.  You're not our slave now."

"That's good to know."

Mac got up to stop him.  "We need to get to know each other.  Things have clearly changed."  Xander nodded at that.  "Want dinner?"

"I should...go back to my project," he sighed, looking at them.  "They need me."

"We'll be here," Mac promised.  "Think and come back, Xander."  He nodded, heading out to his car and then to the school.  He looked at him.  "He keeps flashing on how we gentled him into being ours.  I flash onto battle scenes and the one time I threw you against a wall."

"We flash onto the notable things," Horatio suggested, standing up to kiss him.  "The same as I flash onto the time you fell off the new horse."  Mac gave him a dirty look.  He smiled back.  "I do."  He kissed him and led him to the bed.  "That was a good night."

"Very," he moaned, letting Horatio do whatever he wanted.  They didn't have to hide it the same way now.


Mac and Horatio got out at graduation, watching the other families walk over to the seating area, happy and smiling.  Mac saw Xander first and stared at him but the boy sighed and slumped.  He walked over.  "We can help, Xander."  Their boy hadn't come back to the hotel.  He was scared so they had to make the first move this time.

Xander looked at him.  "I want you safe," he said, leading them out of the way.  "Safe is not here."

"In this life I'm a former Marine and we're both cops," Mac told him.  Xander's jaw dropped.  He thought they were former military again.  "We're helping."

"You could die."

"As you once said, if we're going to die, you're going to be there.  We feel the same way," Horatio said gently, staring at him.

"You don't know me."

Horatio smiled.  "You'd be surprised.  We've both noticed that wherever then was impacts who we are now."  He shifted closer.  "I know you're protective, possessive of what's yours.  You're able to defend yourself and those you love if you have to."  Xander swallowed but kept staring at him.  "You can obviously fix the trigger you were building the other night."  Xander nodded at that.  "How?"

"Willow's a computer nerd."

"Ah."  He smiled slightly, then reached over to stroke down some hair that was sticking up.  "It's important to us that we be here."

"But here is *dangerous*," he insisted quietly, glancing around.

"Everywhere is dangerous," Mac told him.  "I live in New York and Horatio lives in Miami.  We're both tops in our labs, Xander.  We have people who want to kill us so we're out of the way."  Xander gaped.  "We're still working on the city issue at the moment.  We'll let you help us with that."  He smiled at him and stroked down the same hair that was sticking up.  "We'll be there to help."

"Then you'll need weapons," Xander said.

"We have guns."

"Which won't work against nearly anything," Xander assured them.  "Crossbows?  Axes?  Swords?"

Mac smiled.  "We'll do what we can."

Xander stared at him then pulled something out to point at it.  "This is your area.  Clear it.  Get them out of there.  There's a secondary force."  He glanced around then put it away quickly.  "Principal Snyder, these are friends of my family who came to recruit me to police work when I'm done with today."

"Police work?  You?  A fuck-up like you?" he snorted, then burst out laughing.  "Sure, Harris.  Dream on."

"Actually I think he has a lot of skills that would be useful with some training," Horatio said coolly.  "Considering I run one of the top forensic labs in the country, I'd be more than happy to train Xander.  As would my associate, Detective Taylor out of the NYPD."

Mac smirked.  "I think we'd do wonderfully training him.  He has the right thought patterns and the right aptitudes for the work."  Snyder gave them a horrified look but walked off shuddering at that.  "Though you'd still have to go to college first," he admitted dryly, looking at the boy.  "Did you have to beg to pass everything?"

"Nearly and that was with Willow helping me," Xander said dryly, shrugging a bit.  They had clearly looked up his past if they knew how bad his grades were.  "It worked."  He heard the bells start ringing.  "Find seats."  He ran for his, nodding at Willow and Buffy when he sat down in his appointed spot.  Buffy gave the two guys a curious look then him but he shrugged and watched for it to happen.  Finally the eclipse started and he looked at Buffy, handing over the trigger.  "Flip the green thingy then press.  It's a safety," he told her.  She nodded, stuffing it into her pocket.  The mayor started to change and they lost their graduation robes, stepping up to clear the innocents and to get into the fight.

He spared a glance to find Horatio and Mac were doing what they should be doing and had shot a few of the vampires coming in under cover of the eclipse.  It wasn't doing them any good but they were trying.  "Marcus!" he shouted, then tossed him a stake.  "Like the movies!"  He got back to his area, defending it until the last person was out of the way.  He saw Buffy take off to bait the mayor and silently prayed that she remembered.  She dove out the window and dug out the switch.  "Flip the cover!" he shouted, taking on another demon.  She did that and the school exploded, knocking him down.  He panted, watching the demons run away.  They knew they had lost.  He made himself sit up, checking for more injuries than the scratches and scrapes from the demons and flying rocks.  Still whole.  Still here.  He accepted Horatio's hand up and looked at him.  "Like I said, safer if you weren't here."

"I can see why now."  He looked at the rubble then nodded.  "We need to help evacuate.  Meet us where?"

Xander grimaced.  "Police station?"

"Probably," Mac agreed.  He handed back the stake.  "Explanations?"

"After the police station?"

Horatio nodded.  "That'll work too."  They went to help the first responders.  "Taylor, NYPD, and Caine, Miami-Dade," he reported.  "Where do you need us?"  They got pointed at a spot and went to help the firefighters and paramedics pick up the injured for now.

Xander looked at Buffy.  "The green cover was so it wouldn't go off in your pocket."

"I can see why."  She gave him a hug, making him wince and hiss.  "Yeah, me too."  She found Willow helping and nodded, getting a nod and her following once she had handed over her current evacuee.  They collapsed against a tree across the street, watching the action, relaxing and wincing as they moved.  "How many did we lose?" she asked Xander.

"I saw at least thirteen," he said, sounding sad. "Probably a quarter of the ones injured too.  At least we got the innocents out of the way.  No mothers or grandmas or kid sisters."  They both nodded at that.

Willow looked over at him.  "Who're the redhead and the brunette men?"

"Friends."  He grinned. "Police officers.  I'm getting my ass chewed later."

Willow nodded.  "Want magical cover so you can escape on your road trip?"

He let out a snort.  "They'll beat my ass."

"Okay.  Let me know."

"If I tell them they'll relent.  I'll be fine."  He sighed as Giles came over.  "Oz?"

"Sprained wrist but he's helping.  He'll join us soon."  He handed Buffy something.  "I managed to save this for you."

She smiled, opening her diploma.  "Thanks, Giles."

"Did you get mine?" Willow asked.  He shook his head.  "That's fine.  I'm sure we can get a copy from the state."  She relaxed again, watching as Feds started to pull up.  "Poop."

Buffy nodded.  "We need a latte before they find us.  That way we have strength for later."

"I can't summon lattes," Willow admitted.

Xander dug out some gum, handing it over. "Best I can do without moving."  One of the Feds stomped over and he waved.  "Morning."

"You shouted about the cover."

Xander gave him a look.  Then he nodded.  "Would you like the plausible story that the city will use or the truth that'll give you nightmares and make you consider suicide briefly?"

"Xander!" Giles snapped.

"Lying to Feds means they come back when they're done with the rubble removal, Giles."  He looked at the Fed again, shrugging a bit.  "Take a walk?"

"Can you walk?" he snorted.

"I've walked and even strolled with worse than this.  I've even limped my way onto a dance floor once or twice," he said, groaning a bit but Buffy gave him a helpful push up to his feet.  "Thank you."  He looked at the Fed. "One of you present?"  He nodded, looking smug.  "We always knew Darren's family had strange people in them."  He walked him off, taking him over to the rubble that was being wet down.  He found the head and pointed.  "That was attacking.  We knew that was going to attack.  Can you think of a better way to kill that thing since bullets wouldn't?" he asked, looking at him.  He was pale.  Xander shrugged.  "Statement enough?"  He walked off, heading back to the tree.  "The head survived intact," he announced, moaning as he flopped down again.  He looked at Oz.  "I have gum."

"I had a pepsi.  The machine made them fly."  He tossed one over for him, getting a nod of thanks.  "The head?"

"With a Fed staring at it in horrified agony."  He opened the soda and sighed in pleasure as the caffeine hit his mouth and his bloodstream.  "Better."  He watched as the last of the fires were put out and the last of the casualties were taken away.  "I counted fifty injured?" he asked.

"Sixty-two.  Three ambulances left while you were strolling in misery," Willow corrected.  "Not bad."

"Not bad," Xander agreed.  "Could've been much worse."  They all nodded at that and Giles gave him a look.  "Now what, G-man?"

"Now, we move on," he sighed.  "Sunnydale won't stop for this event."

"But it could send some of his allies out of town, right?" Buffy asked hopefully.  Giles nodded that was possible.  They watched as another Fed walked their way with handcuffs out.  "He's too sore for those."

"You're all being taken down to the local police station so we can have a talk," he ordered firmly.  They all nodded.  "Now."

"Want us to mosey that way or are you giving us the special ride?" Buffy asked.  He glared.  "What!  It's a point to consider!"

"Let's mosey," Xander said, getting helped up by the agent.  He took his soda with him.  "Thanks for the helping hand.  Anyone else?"  He helped the others up and they walked that way, him nodding at Mac when he found the older man watching him.  Then he rolled his eyes.  He pointed at the side of the school and the still-staring Fed, getting a nod of understanding.  It wasn't a far hike by any means.  Three blocks to work some of the stiffness out of their muscles and a quick stop by Buffy for a higher bit of sugar and caffeine since Oz had scooped up a diet pepsi for her.


Xander looked at the new agent as he wheeled in a cart, looking at the head.  "Found him I see."

"Got the other agent off to the hospital because he was thinking so hard he nearly had a stroke, Mr. Harris."  He stopped to look at him.  "We've talked to Mr. Giles."

"Then you got the real story?"

"We did."  He watched him take a sip of his water.  "Need medical attention?"  Xander shook his head.  "Are you sure?"  He nodded.  "Why did you blow up the school?"

"It had to be killed before it ate everything on the planet.  I didn't want to die today and that was the only way we had.  What did you want us to do?"  The man looked stunned.  "By the way, did you find the remains of the principal?  He ate him before the attack."  He took another sip, watching the head.  "He's not dead."

"It has to be dead.  It has no brain, kid," the first Fed complained.

Xander stood up and looked at it, watching as the eyes opened and it let out a low growl.  Xander pulled out his silver boot dagger and looked then stabbed it in the extra covered portion behind the eyes.  Clearly there was a cavity there.  It bellowed and he picked up a handy paper weight to tap the end of the dagger in deeper until it really died.  He looked at it.  "I'd like the knife back.  It's sentimental for me."  He looked at the second, gaping Fed.  "What did you want us to do?"

"Who planned the defensive action?" the first Fed asked.

Xander wiggled his fingers.  "My fault.  Totally my fault.  I had to use the strengths of the people."  He stared at him.  "No one's told me.  How many did I send to their deaths?" he asked quietly.

"Sixteen total."

Xander hung his head and nodded then looked at him.  "It could've been worse if they didn't clear the spectators."

The second Fed nodded.  "It could have been.  How did you know how to do that?"

Xander gave him a self-depreciating grin.  "A possession a few years back was by an Army PFC," he said quietly.  "The bombs were the only way."

The Feds sighed and nodded.  "All right.  I can see why."  He looked at the head again then at him.  "The town has decided it was a gas explosion."

"They often do that," Xander agreed.  "There's also apparently a lot of gangs of PCP and a lot of wild animals that attack people.  That's what Sunnydale is.  That's why my group does what we do.  So you guys don't have to.  Now, am I being charged?  I need a shower and some time alone to think and mourn."

The Feds looked at each other.  "We need you where we can contact you."

Xander nodded.  "I'm leaving soon on a road trip but I'll have a toss-away cellphone and email capabilities."  That got a frown.  "I've also been talking with some family friends.  There's two East coast cops who helped.  They'll probably be able to find me if Willow can't."

"That we'll accept as long as you're with one of them," the first Fed told him.  "At least until we decide what we're doing in this case."

Xander nodded.  "You can argue with them about that."  That got a nod and the second one left.  Mac and he came back.  "They want to be able to find me."

"You're coming home with me, Xander," Mac told him simply.  "New York is a very good place to find yourself on a road trip.  The whole world is represented there and you can learn a lot."

Xander gave him a gentle smile and a nod.  "Did you know I lost sixteen?"

Mac gave him a hug.  "It was a good plan and you couldn't have made it any better," he soothed.  Xander hugged him back.  He looked at the Feds.  Then at the head.  "Decoration?"  He let the boy go to look in the cavity.  "Huh.  Secondary brain for basic life functions."  He took the paperweight and smacked the knife in deeper, making it bellow louder this time.  "What cures that?"

"Hydrochloric acid," Horatio said as he came in with a bottle of it.  He let Mac remove the knife and poured it into the cavity once Xander had it tilted up.  The backup brain dissolved with a hiss and the thing truly died.  He handed it over to the nearest Fed.  "Can we have him?"

"Caine," one said.

Horatio smirked at him.  "We came for Xander's graduation."

"As long as one of you can find him for us this summer, that's fine," he decided.  "Take him home, get him treated, get him a shower and calmed down."  They nodded and walked Xander out, letting him grab a papertowel to clean off his knife on the way out.  "Any idea who's writing this report?"

He handed over the bottle.  "Go for it."  He walked out, leaving the head there.  He could gather film from any of the survivors who had taken some of the graduation ceremony.  It'd be easier on his mind.

The second Fed looked at the head then nodded.  "I'll hand you to the director and some of the film if we can find some.  Should be self-explanatory why we're not writing a real report."

Xander looked at Mac.  "Are you sure...."

"You're coming back with me, Xander," Mac promised.  "I have a guest room if you want it."  The boy gave him a solemn nod.  "Now, let's get you packed."

"I've got most of my stuff in storage already.  I was planning on taking a long road trip this summer."  He gave them a gentle smile then looked up.  "It's nearly dark.  We should go now."  They nodded and followed him back to his house, letting him lead the way.  The two cops gave each other looks.  "I know I did the best I could but that was my first full battle plan," he said without having to look.

"You did an excellent job," Horatio assured him.

Xander turned to look at him.  "I got sixteen people killed and sixty injured, Horatio.  It wasn't excellent but it wasn't as crappy as it could be."  That got a nod from both of them. "I'm realistic.  Don't sugar coat things for me.  Oh, and don't bother the parents.  They're drunks."  He turned around and started walking again, running into Giles on his street.  "Hey," he said in greeting.

Giles smiled gently at him.  "They're done with you?"

"They want to be able to find us if something new comes up.  Mac said I could go to New York with him on my road trip."

"It's an exciting city and you'll learn a lot there."  He smiled at the officers then at the boy.  "Are you all right?"  Xander nodded, looking serious.  "Are you sure?"

"I am.  I haven't seen Cordy."

"Small head injury when she got knocked down.  Wesley has a small spinal fracture I'm told.  He was knocked down and stepped on during the exodus out."  He patted the boy on the shoulder.  "Stop over before you leave?"

"Sure.  Gotta go do some laundry for the trip."  That got a nod and Giles left them alone.  He shrugged at his companions and walked on, finding his house was alive with noise.  "Great," he muttered.  He walked them inside. "Ignore them, they're figments helping me finish packing for my road trip," he called as he walked through the living room.  He found his mother in the bathroom dying her hair.  "I'm using the washer.  Are you?"

"Why?" she said, staring at him.  "Who're they?"

"Friends of the family."  He gave her a look.  "Remember, I'm getting out of your hair permanently starting tomorrow."

"Fine, use the washer," she said, slamming the bathroom door so she could redye her hair blonde again.

Xander shrugged but led them into his room, closing and locking the door behind them.  "Sorry you had to see that."  He looked in his closet then around his room.

"How much is in storage?" Horatio asked, sitting on the bed.  Mac sat next to him.  Neither of them wanted to touch anything else in the house, even if this room was only marginally messy from clutter instead of ...whatever was on the walls in the hallway.

"The important things.  These are mostly old clothes and stuff."  He found what he wanted, dragging out the few boxes and then the laundry.   He ran down to the basement to start a load of wash then came back up to figure out what he was packing.  He found his ... whatever they were to him packing for him.  "Some of that is staying."

"You can sort it out later," Mac reminded him.  "Unless you pay per box for storage?"

Xander shook his head.  "One of those 'you keep the key' places.  I have enough room in there to store the furniture in here too if I wanted."  He found a few empty boxes in the kitchen and came back to help with the last of the packing, tossing in the underwear from the drawer without looking.

Horatio looked up.  "Someone's at the house's door.  They're knocking."

Xander gave him a horrified look and grabbed a stake off his dresser, heading down there but it was already too late.  "What the fuck are you doing!" he shouted.

"Payback for screwing with our plans," one of them said.  She lunged at him but he staked her.  The others backed up and hissed.

"Out!" he shouted.  "Now!"

Horatio hung up the upstairs phone.  "Xander, there's an ambulance and cops on the way," he said quietly.

"Won't help them any," Xander said grimly.  He stared at the vampires, watching them back up.  They were still staring at each other when the cops got there.  "My father unwisely answered the door," he said.  He pointed.  "He might still be alive.  The people who did it are behind you."

The cop came over then nodded, calling it in.  "I have an animal attack victim," he said over the radio.  "Near death.  I need an ETA to the Harris house."

"Twenty minutes," was the response.

"No sooner?  He's about a gusher."

"We're finishing up with the last load from the high school.  Twenty minutes."

The cop looked at Xander then at his father.  "We could drive him."

Xander shrugged.  "If he's awake, leave it up to him."

He nudged his father awake, getting a confused look.  "You're about to die, Mr. Harris.  Want us to drive you to the hospital since the ambulance won't get here in time?"  He shook his head slowly.  "Are you sure?  You could live."

"Serves the bastard right for leaving us and saving them.  The mayor should've won," he whispered.  He put his head back down.

"Hell, let someone eat him then," Xander muttered, sitting down on the stairs.  He stared at the cop, handing over his stake.  "They're going to lunge."  One tried and the officer staked her then the other three.  That left the one in the kitchen who came out nibbling on a chicken leg.  The cop looked at him so he shrugged.  "I don't care."  He got up and went back upstairs.

Mac watched him go then looked at the officer.  "This is normal procedure?"

"You from out of town?"


The cop shrugged.  "Around here, things aren't that complicated."  He looked at the nibbling vampire.  "Finish him then go."  He smirked and ate the rest of the father then left, getting shot by Buffy as she ran up the street.  He got out of her way, then Willow's way when she came in the back door.  "You two know better!" he shouted.

"That's why we keep a police scanner," Willow shouted back.  She looked at Xander.  "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine.  We were up here.  Dad answered the door.  Mom was on the couch doing the waiting portion of her hair dye routine."  He sat down on his bed, looking at them.  "He said the mayor should've won."

Buffy snorted.  "Yeah and he'd be doing what?  Cleaning up snake demon crap?"  She gave him a hug.  "Want us to sit with you?"  Xander shook his head.  "Are you sure?"

"I'm fine.  Have Horatio or Mac call their hotel to make sure they know they're not damaged.  The hotel might give their room away otherwise."  Willow went to do that.  He looked at Buffy.  "Mac said I'm going to New York with him."  She nodded.  "Sixteen," he said quietly.

"Is better than six million," she reminded him.  He nodded at that.  "Any other bad news?"

"The Feds have the demon's head.  It had a backup brain cavity behind the eyes.  They ended up using acid to eat the second brain after I stabbed it and it didn't work."

"Charming.  I'll tell Giles."  She smiled and left.  "Behave in New York, Xander."  She walked around the coroner's people, stopping to stare at one.  "Don't I know you?"  He fled.  She shrugged. "I'll deal with you later," she muttered, leaving the house.

The cop just shook his head at the look Horatio gave him.  "Don't ask.  It's a Sunnydale thing.  Xander?"  Xander came to the top of the stairs.  "Tomorrow?"  He nodded so the officer left with the bodies, going to file a report.

"Tomorrow for what?" Horatio asked.

"Tomorrow to get them from the coroner's office.  They can cremate them on site here and if they have life insurance I've got to file for that tomorrow, plus talk to their lawyers."  He shrugged.  "Around here, death is a speedy process to help those who rise.  Thank the mayor for it."  He went back to his packing, smiling when Mac gave him a hug from behind.  "Thank you.  Did you call the hotel?"

"I did," he promised.  "It was a good thought."  He kissed the back of his head.  "I'm not sure if I like your hair that length."

Xander looked back at him.  "We'll talk about me growing it out again some other time.  For right now, I want out of here."  They nodded and finished the packing, letting him dig things out of his dresser's fake bottom.  Mac gave him an odd look.  "Of course I hid the bank book, even though they shouldn't be able to take out of it they're drunks.  Or they were drunks anyway.  Any money they came into they spent."  He heard a buzz and went to change clothes out of the washer into the dryer, then decided to find his mother's hiding spot down there.  He knew she had one.  He found it in the unfinished ceiling, smiling at the cheap lockbox she used.  He pulled it down and opened it with his bootknife, looking inside.  "Two pictures.  Old, empty debit card."  He pocketed the cash and looked at the forms.  "Huh.  Okay."  He put the papers aside and put the box onto the washer's top.  Then he carried the papers up, handing them to Horatio.  "Hold those please?"  He went to find the other hidden spots.  His mother was a packrat.  Mac came into the master bedroom to give him an odd look.  "My mother filled out every single one of those cards you get in the mail for insurance, little statues, all that stuff."  He found the insurance information in the drawer and poured the drawer onto the bed, sorting it out quickly.  He finally came up with all of them.  "I'll have to file for them."

"Do we need to spend extra time for the funeral?" Mac asked gently.

Xander shook his head.  "Even if they owned burial plots they wanted to be cremated.  I can have that done by tomorrow night, spread them in front of their favorite bars, and then start filling out forms for various people."  He grinned slightly.  "I know it sounds warped and cold but with all the vampires around here, the process got very speedy.  Someone tomorrow will have a copy of the will they have on-file with the city for me too."  He finished his looting and walked back to his room, stuffing that into a bag as well.  Then he zipped it and looked around.  "Want to take this to storage tonight?"

"Let's sleep tonight," Horatio offered.  "Do you want to stay here?"  Xander shrugged.  "You can come back to the hotel with us."

Xander looked at him.  "I'm not sure I'm ready for that yet, Horatio."

Horatio smiled and nodded. "I understand, Xander.  It hit us both recently."  Xander smiled and nodded.  "Would you like one of us to stay with you?"

Xander shrugged. "I don't mind.  There's a guest room.  It's probably dusty because it's never used but you can bum it if you want."  He walked them up the hall to show them then went back down to his car, hauling things for the storage run in the morning.  He saw a vampire watching him and waved.  "It's ugly, old, ripped clothes."

"Your clothes are ugly.  We'd never steal them," the vampire assured him, walking on once his cigarette was lit.

Xander snorted and shook his head.  "No respect at all."  He did one last load then locked up the old car, heading back inside.  Mac made sure the house was locked up while Xander finished fussing with the laundry.  Then Horatio came in to tuck him into bed - making him nearly tear up.  He had missed someone caring for him.  Horatio kissed him gently then smiled and left him alone.  "Maybe I'll figure that stuff out tonight," he said, flipping onto his side so he could sleep.  He could hear Mac and Horatio were snuggled in together and smiled. "It suits them."  He closed his eyes and drifted off, letting the dreams of his former life or whatever take over once again.


Xander looked around Mac's apartment then at him.  "It's nice."

"Thank you."

"So, the woman in the pictures...."

"Was my wife.  She died in the Towers," he said quietly, watching his reaction.  He didn't expect the hug but it was nice.  "Thank you, Xander."  He stroked over his back, making the boy relax.  "We'll work it out," he promised.

"They'll never charge us."

"I know.  They took the head.  There's already a coverup started."  He smiled at his boy, then sat him down on the couch, sitting next to him.  "How long have you been doing that?"

"Three years.  Tenth grade."


"Necessary before you say young," Xander said, holding up a hand.  "Friends were taken, one was turned; it was necessary."

"I won't argue with you about it.  I'm sure you've had that argument with yourself a few times."

"Only after the bad days."  He let out a bitter sounding chuckle.  "I don't know what I'm going to do with you two."

"Live with us, help us take care of each other.  Help us figure out how we're doing this in two different cities," Mac offered.  Xander gave him an odd look.  "We don't have that much vacation time and CSI rarely get standard days off.  Even the bosses."

"I had Willow look you both up," he admitted.  "After that first night."

"You nearly gave Horatio a heart attack when he realized you were wiring a bomb," he said dryly, staring at him.

"No other way."


"Because the one time we could've stopped him he had hostages and we couldn't do that."  He looked at him.  "Do you remember how bad those things were?"  He nodded.  "That's why we couldn't."

"I'm not blaming you, Xander.  I only wanted some background information."  He shifted closer and the boy gave him a nervous look.  "I'd never touch you unless you wanted it," he reminded him.  Xander nodded and relaxed again.  Someone pounded on the door.  "I'm busy!" he yelled back.

"No you're not," a male voice called.  "You're on vacation, you can't be busy."

"Danny," he groaned, getting up to answer the door, watching him walk in with a basket.  "You made me dinner?"

"Yup."  He stared at him.  "Stella got a call from some Fed she knows who said you needed dinner, some tylenol, and a good, strong bottle of scotch."  He pulled out a roast chicken and a dish of fried and battered vegetables.  Then a bottle of tylenol.  Then a fifth of scotch.  Then he pulled out a cake.  "Goes even better."  He glanced at the couch then at him.  "Friend?"

Mac closed the door and walked in.  "Danny, this is Xander Harris.  Xander, I work with Danny and he drives me slightly insane."

"Like the Queen song?" Xander teased, shaking Danny's hand.  "Hi."

"So, new housekeeper?" he suggested.


"Friend.  Okay."  He nodded and grinned.  "Some day we'll chat."

Xander shook his head.  "I'm a private guy and my past would freak out priests.  You're kinda not one and Mac would miss you while you were on a mental health vacation to the funny farm to play with the pretty jackets with all the buckles."  Danny burst out laughing and patted him on the head before leaving.

Mac locked the door and looked at his boy.  "I might not miss him that much."  He sat down again, smiling at the boy, who was staring at the kitchen.  "Chicken and fried vegetables."

"Can we eat?"

"We can eat," Mac agreed, letting Xander help him set out dinner and drinks.  Though not the scotch.  It went into a cabinet for when he needed a drink.  The boy probably didn't want to deal with drunks since his parents had been.  He sat down next to the boy, earning a shy smile.  "Relax.  I don't bite, yet."  Xander laughed and swatted him but dug into his dinner.  "What were you thinking about for after your roadtrip?"

"Going home, finding a job, doing the slaying thing to make sure the world doesn't end."

Mac looked at him.  "Do they need you?"

Xander shrugged, looking at his dinner as he cut off another piece of the very tender chicken.  "I don't know."

"What if you stayed with us and went back when they needed you?"

"They're girls.  They're never going to call.  They didn't before.  I had to take the battle plans from Giles and fix them because he didn't account for the spectators or the secondary assault."  He looked at him.  "They're stubborn that way, Mac," he said more gently at the hurt look.

"I can understand that but maybe we can work something out so it isn't a three-city relationship?  I don't have that much vacation time."

Xander shrugged, but smiled a bit.  "We'll see what happens."  He ate his bite of chicken and moaned.  "I want to cook like that."

"There's at least ten cooking schools here in the city, Xander.  You can take classes."

"Then I'd have to work in a really stressful environment and stuff.  I'm not sure I could handle that every day."

"You could take them anyway," he offered.  "And not all cooking jobs are stressful.   You could work in a bakery or in a small restaurant or even somewhere like a diner."  He ate a bite of the fried squash, humming a bit.  "Danny can cook."  He ate another bite and sipped some of his water.  "Whatever you want to do."

"I'd have to have a job to pay for it, Mac.  My grades were horrible."

"There's grants, ones you don't have to pay back, for college students, Xander.  We can look into it if you're interested."  Xander shrugged.  "Well, you have time to think about it."

"There's never enough time," he said quietly, going back to cutting up his dinner.  Mac tipped his face up.  "Hunting taught me that.  There's been too many times when it was a classmate or someone I knew who thought they had time to make plans and have a future and think about getting married and all that stuff.  You end up not having as much as you think."

Mac nodded.  "I learned that with Claire."  Xander slumped.  "It's a lesson we all had to learn."  He stroked over his cheek with the back of his hand.  "We still have enough time to make some plans and figure things out.  You're not dying this summer."  Xander nodded.  "Did you have someone look?"

"No, but something bad is bound to happen.  It always does when I leave the hellmouth."


"Portal under the school's library that opens to one of the millions of hell dimensions.  Big, nasty things come out to eat the world if they're not stopped.  Which is Buffy's job."

"Can you give me a more comprehensive lecture later?  After dinner?"

"You might wanna puke and Giles does it so much better.  His people invented all the books and stuff."

Mac smiled.  "That may be but I'd rather hear it from you.  See how you look at it.  It'll help me get to know you better.  Frankly I didn't want to get to know Mr. Giles any better.  He rather upset me."

Xander grinned.  "Don't like British folk?"

"Not uptight ones who didn't praise you for winning."  Xander gaped.  "Did he?"  Xander slowly shook his head.  "Did he praise her?"  Xander nodded slowly.  "Then why not you?  You were just as instrumental.  You and Willow both."

"Because she's his slayer and she's his duty.  That's what he was bred to do, to work with her."

"You'll explain it to me later."

"You might not wanna eat then."

"I do so want to eat."  He ate another bite.  "Think about what I do, Xander.  I've seen about everything."  He smiled then rolled his eyes at the new knock on the door.  "What?"

"Let me in," Horatio called.  Mac got up to let him in, earning a smile and a kiss.  "The head of the FBI has decided it was a gas leak and told my boss I was very helpful during the gas leak."  He closed the door and walked over to kiss Xander gently, smiling at him. "But they want you to stay out of Sunnydale because they just had to stop a project going on out there before it got out of hand.  They've been moved to containment teams under your Mr. Giles' hand and heel."  He stroked over the dark hair, earning a small grin.  "Therefore they want you to stay where you can be watched for more explosives and they can watch them to see why the US Army isn't good enough."

"Wrong thinking.  Sometimes it's the low tech weapon."

"Hmm.  Perhaps.  Or perhaps it's the theory that there's always more warriors who'll come as backup."  He got his own plate and came over to join them, sitting on Xander's free side.  Mac sat back down once he had given Horatio a glass of water.  "Thank you, boys.  Who cooked?"

"Danny.  One of the Feds told Stella we needed dinner, tylenol, and scotch."

"He brought all three, including the expensive scotch," Xander shared with a small grin.

"Medium quality scotch."

"Sorry.  The 'rents drank the cheapest stuff."

"Drunks often do," Horatio agreed, giving him a look.  "My father did but his was gin."

Xander nodded.  "Mine weren't that picky."  Horatio nodded and took his hand to give it a squeeze.  "I can't eat if you're holding my fork hand."  Mac fed him a bite of chicken, getting a look.  "Shouldn't I be doing that?"

"You're much more than our servant, Xander," Horatio reminded him.  "Even back then.  Or there.  Whatever."

"I was going to ask Willow about that."

"If you want, without the embarrassing details if you can," Mac said.

Xander grinned.  "She doesn't want to hear about those.  She can't even talk about sex with her boyfriend."  That got a few smiles.  "Are you sure they won't need me?"

"No, they won't need you," Horatio promised.  "One of them is coming up to talk to you tomorrow.  So wear the good clothes."

"I have clean jeans and clean shirts," he assured him.  "Even underwear without holes."

Horatio and Mac both looked at his present shirt then each other.  "I have one he can borrow," Mac decided.  Horatio smiled.

"I can wear my own clothes.  They'll expect it," Xander pointed out.  He ate another bite of his dinner and chewed slowly then sipped some of his water.  "Love me, love my hawaiian shirts."

Horatio laughed.  "I'm sure we'll come to like them at the very least, Xander."  Xander smirked at him.  "Mac, what are we doing tonight?"

"Well, now that you're here, Xander can explain Sunnydale to us a bit better.  I asked for more background information."

"That might be nice.  It was a bit...strange."

"Always with the understatements," Xander teased.

Horatio smirked.  "You should see me at work."  He fed him another bite then ate some of his own dinner.  Xander finally got his hand free of him, earning a small smile but the boy just grinned back and dove in again.  "Other than that?"

"I think that should take most of the night.  If not, we'll talk," Mac reminded him.  They both nodded.  "There's things neither of you know about me and I know we don't know everything about Xander."

"Good point," Horatio agreed.  He finished his dinner and looked in the kitchen.  "Do I see a cake?"

"Danny splurged and baked one," Xander told him, getting up to cut slices for all of them.  He carefully brought theirs out then came out with his, sitting down again.  "There, for later for Mac."

"Thank you, Xander."  He smiled and finished up then dug into his cake.  It was very good.  Xander was letting out small moans at each bite.

Horatio was watching him eat.  "You like sweets."

"Twinkies are next to the Gods."

Horatio snickered.  "We'll see what we can do with that."

"I was thinking he likes to cook and wanted to cook this well, he should take a few beginning cooking classes.  That way he doesn't have a lot of pressure but it's a skill everyone could use."

"Isn't that cheating if I don't go for the full degree?" Xander asked.

Mac shook his head.  "No.  There's plenty of people who only take a class or two to up their skills, meet new people, or even to pick up people."  Xander shifted some.  "Not that I'm suggesting it for that reason but it's a skill we could all use."

Xander considered it then nodded.  "We'll see."  He used his finger to get the last of the cake and licked it off, smiling at them.  "Want me to put things up?"

"It's my turn since you two set the table," Horatio said, getting up to do that once he was done.  "Mac, how much longer do we have you?"

"Two days.  Stella's probably ready to pull out her hair."  He smiled at Xander.  "We might be invited out with the lab tomorrow."

"I won't mind.  Are you ...."

"I'm not hiding you, Xander.  Danny's got a big mouth.  It'd be too late even if I wanted to."  Horatio snickered at that.  "Plus we're all nosy here.  Stella especially.  If I even tried she's yell at me in Greek and smack me around a bit."  He carried their dishes into the kitchen then came out to pull Xander to his feet, smiling at him.  "If you're mine they're going to know and you'll get to know all the lunatics I deal with.  All right?"  Xander nodded.  "Good boy."  He kissed him gently then Horatio came out to get his own.  "Jealous?" he teased.

"Definitely."  He smirked and kissed Mac again then went back to his putting up leftovers.  "I demand equal treatment, Mac.  You were already ahead when I got here."  Xander blushed so he smirked at him.  "Then we'll figure other things out."  He put the last dish up and came out, snuggling onto the couch, pulling Xander down with him to hold him.  Mac sat in his usual chair, getting a small pout.  "For now we can sit and stare at him.  Make him feel as handsome as he is," he said in Xander's ear.  Xander shivered but nodded.  "Now, let's talk about your past."  Xander looked at him.  He kissed him.  "We want to understand, Xander.  Not make fun of you."  Xander nodded, relaxing into his arms so he could tell them all about Sunnydale and the girls.  Every time he tried to hide something Horatio gave him a squeeze and he ended up admitting to it anyway.  All the bad stuff, all the good stuff, how he had done things before.  He finally looked back at Horatio after talking about Faith.  "Do you do this during interrogations?  It seems to work really well."

Horatio burst out laughing.  "I'd scare them and I'd get complained at for physically touching them but maybe I'll try that."  He kissed the back of his head.  "Where is Faith now?"

"Coma.  She went bad."  He slumped some.  "I tried to help her."

"I know you did," Mac promised, coming over to get his other side.  Xander snuggled into him now and told them the rest of the story.  It wasn't pretty and they were highly proud of their boy.  Mac smiled at him.  "You did good, Xander."  Xander looked at him.  "You did.  You were doing things that I wouldn't have done without a platoon of Marines with me.  Much less two girls."  Xander let out this gentle little smile.  "We're both very proud but we hope it's rare that you have to hunt in the future."

"It should be," Horatio agreed, stroking his back.  "You were doing things I could never do and wouldn't want to do.  It was important work.  Now there's apparently some people from the military and some federal agency out there to do it for you."

"I wonder how many'll stay."

Mac smirked.  "They can't just up and quit, Xander.  It's hard to get a transfer in the military.  You can make sure that they're treating your friends right or else you'll go out there to visit and straighten them out with us."  Xander beamed and nodded.  "Good boy.  Now, go call Willow to make sure she knows you're all right then shower.  It's nearly ten."  Xander went to do that and he looked at Horatio.  "He's stronger than me.  I'd have pissed myself a few times."

"Me too," Horatio admitted, shifting closer slowly.  Mac pulled him closer and cuddled him.  "How are we doing beds tonight?" he asked quietly, unbuttoning Mac's shirt for him.

"I left that up to him. We do have the guest room."  He smiled at him.  "What about you?"

"I think I'd like to see you on your back begging," Horatio said.

"I could like that," Mac decided.  Someone else knocked and he groaned, getting up to answer it.  "Stella.  Danny not report enough to you?" he asked dryly, letting her inside.  If he didn't she'd push past him anyway.

"Not really.  He didn't say Horatio's in town."  She gave him a hug around the neck.  "Hi."

"Hi yourself."  He smiled.  "I got here after Danny and shamelessly let them feed me his dinner."

She laughed and pinched him on the cheek.  "Naughty you."  She heard the shower go off and looked toward the bedroom then at Mac.  "The new friend he said you had?"

"It's...complicated, Stella."

She stared at him then pinched him on the arm, making him yelp.  "You don't share those things?  I tell you those things!"

"He didn't want the department to get too nosy," Horatio pointed out.  "No more pinching him.  That's my job."  He smiled at Xander as he came out in a pair of boxers and a t- shirt.  "Xander, this is Stella Bonasera.  Mac's second in the lab."

"Hi."  He shook her hand and looked at Mac, then at Horatio.  "Maybe I should go put on clothes."

"Don't you dare," Mac told him, making him blush.  Stella gaped at him.  He stared back.  "That's why I'm not advertising it."

"Okay, I can see that."  She nodded a bit.  "Good taste, Mac."  He blushed and coughed a bit.  She giggled and hugged Xander.  "Welcome to New York, Xander.  You'll get to know all of us insane people in the lab.  Don't worry, most of us don't bite.  Aiden may seem like she does but she won't bite you."

"I bite back," he said, staring at her.  She burst out in giggles again and gave him another hug.  "So, needed him?"

"Danny didn't share the good gossip."  She patted him on the cheek.  "I'll see you in a few days.  We're quiet enough in the lab that Mac won't have to do more than introduce you as a new friend.  Are you up for college?"

"Maybe.  I haven't decided yet."  She gave him a look.  He shrugged.  "School sucks muchly.  I don't get along well with it."

"Fine."  She pinched him on the arm too.  "Be good to Mac or else the rest of us will beat your ass until you beg for mercy.  Am I clear?"  He nodded.  "And then we'll shoot you, hide you as only a CSI can, and then hold a party."  He grinned at that.  "Understood?"

"Yes, Mistress."  She walked off laughing, leaving them alone.  She had some new news to tell the others who should know.  "Did anyone else recognize her?"

"She was the visitor who showed up right before that invasion," Horatio said.  "I knew I liked her."  Mac snickered, coming over to hug Xander, then pull them both onto the couch so Horatio could cuddle too.

Horatio yawned.  "Sorry, catching up on missed sleep."

Mac stroked over his hair.  "It'll be fine, Horatio.  We can sleep."  He looked at Xander.  "We were going to sleep together, it's up to you if you want to join us or not."  Xander gave him a hesitant look.  "Even just to cuddle but I can't promise he won't wake up and touch us both in the morning."  Xander blushed but shrugged. "Then let's hit the bed."  They got up, going to do their evening things.  Mac made sure the house was sealed.  Xander came out from brushing his teeth.  Horatio went to do that and change into boxers and a t-shirt as well.  Mac came back in sweatpants but they didn't mind.  The bed was a bit crowded but none of them seemed to mind it.  Xander got the spot in the center and both older men sighed in pleasure.  It was a good feeling.  A very good feeling.


A few days later Xander appeared in the lab, looking very nervous.  "Mac asked me to bring him lunch," he said quietly, holding up the bag.  "Is he here?"

"He is.  Sign in please while I page him."  Xander scrawled on the sheet she pointed at and she paged Mac for him.  Mac came out looking happy.  "Your lunch, Detective."

"Thank you.  Gladys, this is Xander.  He's a very good friend.  If he needs to find me, he is to find me."  She nodded at that.  He grabbed a visitor's pass and put it on Xander then walked him and his lunch off.  "Come on.   Did you bring enough for yourself too?"

"Um, nope.  But I made you two sandwiches.  You said you were hungry."

"Then you can have half of one of them," Mac said, stopping to get them sodas.  He had found out about Xander's soda habit.  He liked it more than his twinkie habit, even when he played twinkie theater for him.  They settled in his office, Mac behind his desk with the lunch.  "This is my office."

"I was hoping you weren't stealing."

Mac smiled.  "No, not stealing."  He unwrapped the first sandwich and handed over half.  "There, eat."  Xander nodded and dug in, waving when Stella walked by.  Mac grinned.  "The others wanted to meet you and this is the faster way since you're not legal to go out to the bar with us later tonight."  Xander gave him a look.  "I'm not getting drunk. We go out for team picking on each other about once every two weeks."

"I don't mind, Mac.  They're your friends."  He saw a totally pissed off dark-haired man in a light purple suit stomping up the hall.  "Um, the Cosmo Man is coming.  Who looks a like the husband of the visitors we had," he noted quietly.

Mac choked but nodded while he sipped his drink.  Don stormed in.  "Problems?"

"Danny is a complete shithead!"

"Friends are like that sometimes," Xander told him.  "Trust me, mine are and they're all girls."  He ate a small bite when the man stared at him.  "Hi."

"Hi.  Who're you?  New CSI, Mac?"

"If he wanted to train for it I wouldn't mind," Mac offered.  "But no, this is Xander."

"The one Stella told us about?"  He turned to look Xander over.  Then he shrugged.  "He's cute."

Xander smirked at him.  "Thanks.  Wanna check for bondage markings too?"  Don spluttered.  Xander ate another bite and he grinned once he had swallowed and the detective had finished choking.  "Why is your friend a shithead this time?"

"He refuses to give me reports.  He said he won't for another day."

"Is he holding them for a specific test to get done?" Mac asked.

"He won't tell me."

Xander got up and adjusted his collar.  "Shame to mess up the purple with the hickey.  It clashes."  He sat down and went back to eating, letting Don gape at him in horror.  He grinned and waved.  "Hi."

Don finally closed his mouth then looked at Mac.  "I like him."  He called Danny's extension.  "Why won't you give me reports?"  He handed the phone to Mac.

Mac listened.  "Is that a good reason?"  Danny expounded and Mac nodded.  "Fine.  No, Xander just fixed his collar to cover the hickey."  He hung up on the spluttering.  "He said the guy's out of town until tomorrow anyway and better to have it all so you can meet him at the train station."

"Fine."  He walked off shaking his head.  Danny came out to stare at him.  "What?  Oh, that Xander guy is in."

"Kinda figured that.  Hickey?"  Don blushed and walked off.  "Uh-huh.  New gossip Stella hasn't heard?" he called after him.

"There is?" Stella asked, coming out of her lab.  "What new gossip I haven't heard?"

"Xander just adjusted his collar so the hickey wouldn't clash with his suit."

"Oooh, hickeys?"  She came over to look but Don tried to get away.  "Don't make me handcuff you."  Don took off running back to the office.  She grinned.  "Xander's a pretty nice guy."

"He's in the office."

"I saw.  He waved.  He brought Mac lunch."  They aww'ed at each other then went to find Aiden and bring her in to meet Xander.  They found Xander joking with Don and Mac both.  Mac was actually smiling and relaxed.  The kid was a bit tense but that was fine.  Danny clapped Xander on the back.  "Thanks for the new gossip, Xander."  Xander gave him a horrified look so he pointed at Flack with a shiteating grin.  "Him and the hickey."

"It didn't match the suit and my female friends would've been *so* pissed and snarky about that.  Especially my ex Cordy."

"Let's not get started on Cordelia," Mac said dryly.

"At least she liked Horatio,"  Xander offered with a grin.

"Of course.  He wears Armani and matches his shoes.  The only thing she could pick on him for was his sunglasses fetish."

"I'm *so* telling him you call it that," Stella teased.

"He knows.  Cordelia decided it was," Xander said dryly.  "Plus his one-liner habit.  Then she warned them not to feed me."

"I think it was don't feed you chocolate," Mac said patiently.  Xander looked at him.  "Or...  Well, yes, she did decide we should starve you, didn't she?"  He nodded, giving him a smug look.  "Don't worry, you won't starve."  He looked at Danny.  "By the way, Horatio appreciated dinner as well."  Danny gaped.  Then he sat down on the floor, still gaping.  Aiden burst out in giggles.  Xander too.

"Damn I miss the good gossip," Don complained to Stella.

She shrugged.  "Your boss and others would be mean."

"True."  He smiled at Xander.  "We don't have ta threaten you, right?"

Xander finished his lunch and looked at him while he chewed.  "One of my best friends is five-four and blonde, she wears fashionable clothes, and can kick all our asses combined without messing up the fashionable clothes.  While wearing heels.  She said if I mess this up, she's going to get me first."  Don gaped so he pulled out a picture.  "That's Buffy."

"She's cute," Stella said, looking over Don's shoulder.  "We're local, she'd have to travel."

Xander turned the picture.  "That's Willow.  She can figure out how to get her here instantly.  She said she would if Mac ever made me cry."  They just nodded at that.

"Willow and Buffy were a bit nice," Mac offered.  "But kind of strange too."  Danny snatched the pictures to look then stared at Xander.  Who grinned and wiggled his fingers.  "Know them, Danny?"

"Yeah, that guy up the hall from me that I keep finding swearing and drunk while Scottish keeps swearing about your buddy Xander and his friends."  He handed it back, standing up, staring at him.  "What did you guys do recently?  He went on a three-week binge."

"Saved everyone.  You're welcome," Xander said dryly, staring at him.  He looked at Mac.  "The agent said you get to keep the head if you wanted."

"I'd have to explain it.  Doesn't Buffy want it?"

"She's not big on reminders.  Horatio said he didn't want it for the same reason so decide where it goes?"

"I can put it here," he decided, looking at them. "Yes, Danny.  What he and his friends were doing was why Horatio and I went out there suddenly for his graduation."  Danny went pale.  "It's also classified.  So no comment."  They all groaned at that.

"I think it's nice that the head made the Feds cry and send people to my former town," Xander offered.  He grinned at Mac.  "Buffy's going to need a dictionary soon to translate.  Willow's email this morning said that she couldn't understand them half the time either.  They speak Government and Willow isn't fluent yet so she wanted to know if you had a translation guide to any other human language?"

Stella cackled.  "I like that one.  We should make one."  She ruffled Xander's hair.  "I think I like you already, kid."

Xander stared at her for a minute.  "Don't make me call you Mommy, Stella."  She burst out cackling again before giving him a hug and wandering off.

"I'm not scary?" Don asked.

"Scarier than Buffy?  Nope.  I don't think there's much scarier than Buffy when she's wandering around at three in the morning in a face mask and jammies but we're going ... um, never mind.  Can't tell that story."  Danny gave him an odd look.  "What!  Giles called, it was a movie night!  We had all crashed in the living room.  She had on her green goopy face mask.  We had to go!  Even the thing was scared!"

Danny just nodded then looked at the confused people.   "Don, you've met my neighbor, right?"

"Yeah, a few times when I came over and you were helping him up the stairs."

"He's the one that the guy swears about.  Rosenburg is his friend Willow."

"OOOH!" he said, suddenly getting it and nodding.  "Never mind.  She's scarier and mental!  It's all good, kid."  He grinned.  "Having fun in town?"

"So far I've found a library and a park," he said proudly. "And here.  I did find here."

Mac smiled at him.  "We'll explore the neighborhood when I get home tonight, Xander.  That way neither of us has to cook."  Xander grinned at that.  "Guys, work?"

Aiden looked at the boy then shrugged and bopped him on the head.  "I guess you're cool enough.  You old enough to join us on the team outings?"

"I don't much like drinking and no."

She nodded.  "That's fine.  We'll make sure Mac don't get trashed," she said with a knowing smirk.  "By the way, I'm the scary bitch around here.  Got it?"  He nodded quickly.  "Good boy."  Xander barked and she snickered. "You'll do, kid."  She strolled out, going back to work.

Danny watched her go then shrugged.  "Guess she's a bit freaked about it, Mac.  We'll talk to her later."

"I think it'll be fine," Mac promised.  "You two have work to do too."  They walked out.  Xander pulled chocolate cupcakes out of his pocket and handed over the mass-produced package.  "Thank you."

"Remus Lupin was right, you need chocolate after big shocks."  He nibbled on his with a grin because he had made Mac giggle.  "How's Horatio?"

"Busy.  He came back to twenty folders to sign off on and two new bodies this morning.  We've been texting back and forth all day."  Xander grinned at that.  His desk phone rang so he answered it.  "Detective Mac Taylor."  He finished his cupcake while he listened. He pointed at the seat when Xander got up.  "I can do that, sir.  Thank you."  He hung up before more demands could be made.  "Just the boss wondering why I haven't done some paperwork that's not due until next month."

"What happens if they find out?" Xander asked quietly, glancing around.

"I was going to ask your friend Buffy to visit," he joked, smiling a bit.

Xander looked at him.  "Mac, you're a Marine.  I'm me.  I think between us we could do better than Buffy could.  She'd just go 'ewww' and kick his ass.  We could be creative."  Mac burst out laughing at that, nodding a bit.  He had figured that out about Buffy the day they had stayed with Xander to help him through the rushed will-reading, cremation, and spreading of his parents' bodies.  She had shown up a few times claiming boredom and to check up on them.  "Besides, I'm the sneaky one of the girls."

"You're not a girl."

"I'd hope not," he shot back with a smirk.

"Though I do miss that braid."

Xander blushed and shrugged.  "We'll see.  Having shaggy hair annoys me."

"We can trim it as it grows to keep it manageable for you, Xander.  Would you consider it?  Horatio was considering asking you too."  Xander nodded, giving him a sheepish look.  "Good boy.  Now, know how to get home?"


Mac smiled and nodded.  "That's one of the fastest ways.  Where did you want to eat tonight?"

"Anyplace is fine, Mac."  Mac gave him a look.  "There's that nice little deli on the other side of the block.  It's kinda rundown but it's a family place and looked clean."  Mac smiled and nodded.  "Cool.  My treat?"

"I make a paycheck.  Save your traveling money for now. You might find something you want.  Like clothes."  He looked at his current outfit.  "We're lucky Don didn't say something.  Or Aiden."

"Maybe that's why she kept staring at me?"

"Maybe," he admitted.  "We'll see about that tonight too."  Xander opened his mouth.  Mac stared at him.  "Wear a black shirt between the pants and that overshirt, Xander.  It clashes."  Xander sighed but nodded.  "I have a nice one, we'll both dress down tonight?"  Xander gave him a look.  "I can dress down."  Xander shrugged.  "Or don't you care?"

"I like you in your clothes," he mumbled since someone was coming their way.  He shifted in his seat, looking at the lab tech who came in.  "Need me to go, Mac?"

Mac accepted the report from the scowling person, frowning at it.  "Is that right?"  She nodded, nearly sneering.  "Then give it to Stella.  Let her check the case.  That doesn't make any sense on that case."  She stomped off.  He shook his head.  Then he looked at Xander's seat.  He had snuck out without him noticing.  "He's very good at sneaking.  My bosses should watch out," he decided, making plans to go home and dress down tonight. A deli wasn't going to require a suit coat.  Plus it'd mean he could get Xander out of those hideous overshirts of his.  A shopping trip was definitely in order.  He texted that to Horatio along with sending him an email from the security video of what he was wearing today.  Horatio was fashionable and a bit uptight about those things.  Horatio sent back an email with a list of places to shop and promised to send up money Western Union.  He laughed at that and assured him it wasn't necessary.  Horatio sent back one saying it was, he was theirs therefore they both had to pay for it.  Besides it'd mean more clothes.  Mac left it there and made plans to pick up the money on the way home.  He did want to see Xander in something that wasn't loose and baggy, or loud prints, or stained.   Plus the boy needed some underwear.  Half of what he had was threadbare and a few had holes.


Mac smiled as Xander looked up from his sandwich.  "Sorry I'm a bit late.  I decided to change."

"That's fine.  Yours is waiting."  He pointed and Mac went up to get his sandwich, chips, and drink from the counter.  The older man behind the register smirked at him.  "Thank you," Xander called.  Mac sat across from him, letting Xander see how he moved in the jeans and t-shirt.  "How was work?  That bad?"

"No, not too bad.  Stella handled most everything very well for me."  He ate a bite and moaned.  "Oh, this is good."  He ate another bite then looked inside his sandwich, then at the old man, who shrugged.  "Onions, Xander?"

"I figured I had some on mine so it was all right," he said quietly.

"It's fine."  He grinned at him.  "Horatio suggested some places that we should take you shopping to replace some of the stuff that has holes in it."

"I like my clothes."

"I know you do."  He made the boy look at him.  "You do know that sometimes I have to do fundraising events for the PD?"  Xander went pale and shook his head.  He nodded and smirked.  "So you're getting some new clothes.  We both agreed that you have a good range of things but you need to fill in the gaps you've left and some stuff has holes or is clearly ready to fall apart.  So you're going.  Well, we're going."  Xander pouted.  "Tough."

"I like shopping where I shopped.  I got used to it and they saved me stuff."

Mac ate a bite of his sandwich then one of his chips.  "If you want to stay with second-hand stuff there's tons of stores in the city for that.  There's whole neighborhoods that have nothing but second-hand stores.  There's a few that are department stores."  Xander gaped.  He nodded.  "Really.  We can try some of them but Horatio wanted you to have some good clothes too so he gave me some suggestions.  So we'll take some of what he sent to do that and then the rest of those other ones?  Maybe my next free day off?"

"Okay."  He grinned.  "You get days off?"

"Now and then," he admitted with a smile.  He dug in again, going back to eating.  The boy was trying so hard not to be a bother to him.  He was doing okay so far but he'd finish relaxing soon enough.  "Did you want to explore the neighborhood some more tonight?"  Xander shrugged.  "Yes, no?"

"Depends, are you tired?"

"Not at the moment."  He smiled and patted him on the arm.  "If I'm tired, I'll let you know, Xander.  It was an easy, lab day for the most part."  Xander nodded and grinned so he finished up.  Xander was nearly done.  He didn't miss him sneaking in a snack cake at the end but that was fine.  Mac got up to pay but the old guy brushed it off.  "Xander, how much do I owe you?"

"It was my turn."  He dumped their trash, got them refills, and handed Mac his cup with a grin.  "It's only fair."  He walked out with Mac, letting him see what he had found earlier.  A few places were open around the block and one looked pretty decent to him.  He pointed and looked at him.  "Can we check out in there?"

"Only if you finish your drink.  There's a no drink sign on the door."  Xander finished up and so did Mac, tossing out their cups into a nearby trash can.  Then they went into the new shop.  It was darker inside, fairly cool as well.  "Nice air conditioning."  The girl behind the register gave him an odd look.  "Xander wanted to look.  He just moved up here."

Xander smiled and waved. "Hi.  I'm Xander.  We live on the east side of the block."  He went back to looking around the kitschy stuff, finding something odd.  He held it up.  "Is that what I think it is?"

"It's... um, well it's to hold stuff," she said.

Xander looked inside then brought it over to show her.  "That's not to hold pot buds, dear."  She went pale and he looked at her.  "Don't make me slay up here," he whined.  "Please?"

"Who are you?" she asked weakly.

He grinned.  "Xander Harris.  From Sunnydale."  She fell down.  He leaned over the counter to look down at her.  "Mac said I'm mostly retired unless something horrible happens or something attacks me," he offered, grinning at her.

"Um, sure.  Want in the backroom?"


"All the magic supplies are back there."

Xander snickered.  "Magic is bad around a Xander.  It goes funny.  Just listen to the rumors about the love spell.  Really."  She just nodded and pointed at the door.  "I won't touch that area.  How about that?"  She nodded, letting him help her stand up again.  "So, anything else I shouldn't touch?"

"I'll have all that stuff moved back to the back section so you don't accidentally set it off by walking past the door, Mr. Harris."

He grinned.  "Xander.  Say it with me.  Xannnnder."

"Xander."  She smirked.  "Smartass."

"Of course.  Rolling with Buffy?  Uh-huh."

She shuddered.  "Thank you."

He winked.  "Welcome."  He went back to browsing, ignoring Mac's odd look.  He finally got a poke and looked at Mac.  "She heard about us."

"Obviously."  He looked at her.  "What did you hear about?"

"The techno-pagan network is all around the world.  We've heard a lot about Sunnydale."

"Is Willow hooked in?  She's a hacker but she only researches online for us these days," Xander asked as he looked at something.

"Not that, it's got a succubus!" she said, coming over to get it free of him.  "Don't release her.  She'll be pissed!"

"She'll want to date me," Xander said dryly, shrugging a bit.  She gave him a horrified look.   "I took Anyanka to the prom," he said smugly.

She looked at Mac.  "Are you protecting him from his death wishes?"

"Most of the time," he said dryly.  He watched Xander browse and the girl take most everything he was interested in away from him.  Though the boy did find a new dagger and something that she hesitated over but let him keep.  He looked at the miniature replica of a grenade launcher then at him.  "You needed some figurines?"

Xander grinned.  "No comment?" he offered sheepishly.

"Xander, if that's going to grow up to be a real one, you can't have it," Mac said patiently.  "I'd have to confiscate it as soon as it grew up."

"What if I need one?"

"You call me and I'll bring you something."

Xander pouted.  "Please?"  He shifted closer.  "I promise I'll only make it grow up for emergencies.  Really bad ones, like when I can't call.  I'll try to call first.  I'll even put it on my keyring."  Mac gave him a look so he gave him his best begging, puppy eyes look.  "Please?  Pretty please, Mac?"

Mac sighed, shaking his head.  "I want to see you do that to Horatio," he said quietly.  "As long as it stays miniature and you try to call first."  Xander grinned and kissed him then got it and the dagger, plus one book.  He looked at the book then at him.  "Why this one?"

"It's not holding something but it's got a holding area."  He beamed.  "It's a puzzle and something for me to do while you're at work."

The young woman went into the back room and came out with another book, putting it on top.  "You'll need it."  She took the money and gave him back the change, then bagged it for him.  "Thank you for shopping with us," she said with a smile.  "Yell from the door the next time?"

"Okay, I can do that."  He grinned and walked out with the bag, glancing in the window subtly once they were outside.  She was slumped over holding her face then she went to clean the store of anything dangerous so he couldn't set it off.  He grinned at Mac.  "I love it when they realize I'm an anomaly and can set off the subtle bad things."

"Should I worry?"

"Probably not about her.  Some of her friends aren't really legal.  After all, they made a miniature grenade launcher."  He walked off with him, pointing at something.  "What's that?"

Mac looked then at him.  "A porn shop, Xander.  Did you want to go in there?"  Xander blushed bright red and shook his head.  "Not yet?" he teased.

"Not yet," he squeaked.

"Okay."  They headed home and Xander put up his new things, coming out with the grenade launcher on his key ring.  Mac could only shake his head at that.  "Don't let anyone see that."  He pulled Xander down next to him and cuddled him, turning on the tv.  "I don't get to do this that often.  I'll have to start leaving the office early."

"Weren't you supposed to go for beers tonight?"

"Tomorrow.  Tonight they decided to have pizza and speculate at Don's place."  He kissed him on the head.  "Relax, I'm not molesting you until you're ready, Xander."

"I have no idea what to do anyway, Mac."  Mac looked at him.  "I don't."

Mac smiled.  "We'll figure it out."  He kissed him on the head again and settled in to share some quality time.  Even if Xander did shift now and then and ended up with his head on his thigh and one hand stroking the calf of the same leg once Mac stretched out down the couch.  It was comfortable.  He was running his hand through Xander's hair and it was very pleasant.  He'd have to spend more time like this.  Even if he did want Xander to learn how to please him sooner instead of later.  Xander looked up at him.  "What?"

"Kinda obvious what you're thinking about," he said quietly.  It was next to his head and bumping into his hair now and then.  Xander shifted, kissing it through his pants.  "Teach me?"

Mac groaned but nodded, turning off the tv to take him into the bedroom.  He got them both naked, letting Xander see him.  Xander gave them comparing looks then pouted.  "You're not small, Xander."

"You're thicker."

"It happens."  He kissed him and pushed him onto the bed, climbing on with him.  "This is still the basics.  The same as it was with girls.  Only now it's like them pleasing you only you're doing it."  He shook his head.  "I sounded like Danny."  Xander kissed him to take that image out of his head.  He smiled at him.  "Good."  He kissed him again and let Xander take control.  He was slowly going to explore him.  Hopefully soon.  Xander finally quit with the kissing and moved down to taste his neck and chest.  It was nice.  He was very gentle.  "I'm not that fragile, Xander."  Xander bite him and he yelped but the boy just grinned and went back to what he had been doing.  "No biting lower than that."

"Yes, Mac."

Mac laid there and let him explore, watching Xander sniff him then take a careful taste.  Xander blew across the head. "Not the right meaning of blow job," he teased.  Xander gave him a look.  "No biting."  Xander bit his thigh, making him hiss louder this time but he was nice enough to at least give him a tongue bath and then move on to sucking the head of his cock.  That was good.  He arched up a bit and the boy pulled back.  "Xander, play with the rest or something?" he begged.  "More than the head is sensitive."  He pulled the boy's hips up so he could do the same thing to him.  Xander was being driven insane by what he was doing to him so he moved on finally.  Or at least further down and quit teasing.  Mac rewarded him by doing the same.  Xander couldn't get all the way down by any means and his jaw was probably sore but he was good so far.  He slurped as he pulled off, making Mac suck hard.  Xander whimpered.  "Do you want to come, Xander?"  He nodded.  "Want me to take over?"

"Please?" Xander begged, arching up toward his mouth.  Mac was purposefully talking so his breath would ghost over the damp flesh.  "Pretty please?  I'll beg."

"You're already doing very good at that," Mac praised, finding his lube and going back to his gentle, soothing blow job.  The boy was whimpering and begging, making him shift so he was overtop of him.  His wiggling kept pulling the cock from his mouth and he needed that.  He slicked up a finger and slid it into the boy's ass, making him yelp and arch up, which Mac dealt with easily.  The finger went deeper and found *that* spot.  Xander started to swear in a language he didn't understand but it was clearly swearing and begging.  He let him come and used the relaxed, sprawled state to slide in two fingers.  "Xander?"  Xander blinked at him, looking sleepy.  "Don't nap yet."

"Not," he said weakly.  "No brains."

Mac smiled.  "Thank you."  He kept going, knowing he wanted him to be as well prepared as he could be.  He saw the wince when he switched to three fingers but kept going.  "Ready for this part?"

"Are you fisting me?"

"No, Xander.  If you wanted that, ask Horatio.  I'm not that kinky."  He leaned up to kiss him, letting the boy take control of the kiss.  During it he removed his fingers, getting whimpers of complaint, but he replaced them and Xander whimper and shifted against him.  "Shh.  Relax," he whispered.  "Just relax, let me do it."  Xander made himself relax and Mac held down his hips while he slowly worked his way in deeper.  Xander was finally fully planted on him and he grinned.  "Give it a minute."

"Mac, move or I'm taking over again," Xander warned.

Mac laughed but did as ordered.  Xander yelped the first time he slid in fully but it was good.  The boy was back to wiggling again.  The rhythm was getting hard to follow so he pulled out and Xander nearly pounced him to get it back.  He flipped him over and went back to it, making the boy howl when he slammed back in.  "Wanted that?"  Xander howled and pressed back so he did it again, getting a soft laughing sound.  He leaned down to nibble on his neck.  "You're giggling?" he asked.  He heard the laugh again and flipped the boy over, looking down at him.  His eyes were glowing yellow and he wasn't Xander.  He didn't have the same sort of expression.  "Okay, what just happened?" he demanded.  The boy nudged his head into Mac's hand when he moved one up to try to touch his forehead.  He petted the hair and the glow slowly faded.  "Um, Xander?"  The glow came back.  He found his cellphone and dialed the number Willow had input for herself.

"Willow, Mac Taylor.  Glowing yellow eyes.  Laughing giggle?"  He snorted.  "On Xander not someone else that's attacking us.  Willow, you don't want the details of what we were doing."  He listened to her babble about something and shook his head quickly.  "Excuse me?"  Xander let out another of those giggles and leaned up to get the hand back in his hair, sniffing his wrist then further up his arm.  He sat back and let Xander sniff wherever he wanted, looking a bit worried when the boy licked his neck.  Willow was still babbling.  "Three sentences or less, Rosenburg," he ordered finally.  She gave it in three sentences.  "Same limit, fixing it how?"  He nodded.  "Thank you."  He hung up before she could complain and made Xander look at him and quit licking his neck.  "Mine."  Xander tipped his head to the side and stared at him.  "Mine, Xander."  Another of those giggles.  He swatted him on the side of the head.  "Give me the boy back.  Don't make me find a priest tonight, Xander.  It's right before a Catholic holiday and there's a lot of them in town right now."  The boy pouted.   "Now, give me Xander back.  Right now or else no more."

The boy pouted again and licked his neck, then looked at him.  "Special," he hissed, staring at him.

"Yes I am."  He looked at him then decided to call Horatio.  "Did Xander ever tell you he was possessed?  He seems to have left that out of his talk with us."  He nodded.  "He is.  I'm sitting here looking at the remnants of the old possession.  Hyena actually.  Glowing eyes, giggling, during sex."  He stared at the boy since he was staring at him.  "Horatio.  Want to talk to Horatio?"  Xander sniffed the phone so Mac let him listen to Horatio.  He saw the boy coming back and stared at him.  "What are you saying to him?" he called loudly enough to be heard.  He heard the laughter from the other end and took the phone back.  "Horatio?  Explanations?"  Horatio told him what he had found out using some of his people's less than usual contacts down in the Cuban community.  Miami had a large Bruja population in some areas.  "Uh-huh.  And I do what?  Or don't do what?"  He nodded and leaned forward, biting Xander on the throat, making him yelp.  "Mine," he said firmly.  The boy pouted.  "Mine and Horatio's.  If he was here he'd mark you too.  You can go see him next weekend so he can mark you."  The boy nodded and sniffed him again, biting him just as hard.  "Ow!"  He swatted him.  "No more biting, Xander.  That's the third time."  He listened to Horatio crack up.  "Don't start."  He hung up and laid Xander back onto his back, staring down at him. "Can I have my boy back now?"  Xander retreated and stared at him, just staring.  "We have got to get that fixed.  It's not nice to interrupt good sex for a possession," he said dryly, making Xander whimper.  "Joking, Xander."

"Sorry."  He pulled a pillow over his face but Mac stole it.  "I didn't mean to."

"I know that.  Now, how do we stop her from coming back out?"

"I'll look up someone locally tomorrow?"

"Good."  He laid down next to him.  "Cuddling won't bring her, right?"  He snuggled in as an answer.  "Let me know if I do that again?"

"It won't happen again, Mac."

Mac made the boy look at him.  "I'm worried about you doing something you'll regret, Xander.  Not that it happened at all.  Not when it happened.  She was apparently curious about who was claiming you as theirs."  He stroked over his cheek.  "You're still mine and Horatio's but if you bite me again I get to do it back."  Xander blushed and nodded.  "Good boy."  He kissed him gently.  "Cuddle in, Xander.  I'll help you find someone."

"Mac, if you walked into their shops they might flee.  Most of them are scared of cops."

"Are they doing illegal things?"

"No but the memories of the purges of the past are long," he said tiredly.  He gave him a squeeze.  "It'll be fine.  Try it again tomorrow night?"

"And every other night you want it," Mac promised more gently, sensing the boy was upset about this.  Xander relaxed and went limp on his chest.  "How many others?"

"One.  Soldier."

"Bomb experience?"  Xander nodded.  "Weapons too?"  Xander looked up and nodded.  "Anything I should be aware of?"

"I have some older base codes.  Used them once for that mall incident."

Mac smiled.  "It was important, Xander.  I'm not going to yell at you for it.  If you have to do it *here* and don't tell me I might yell."  Xander nodded, snuggling in again.  "Good boy," he said, smiling at him, stroking over his back.  "Did she like me?" he asked after a few minutes of cuddling.  Xander shrugged.  "Can't talk to her?"

"If she hadn't liked you she probably would've attacked you, Mac.  She tried to come out on Anya too so she could attack her."

"She bit me."

"I bit you."

"Remember I'm going to bite you back next time."

"Yes, dear."

Mac spanked him, making Xander laugh.  "Better.  Quit worrying.  It was strange but I deal with strange things now and then.  Let me know what I have to do to help you with her."  Xander nibbled on his side and Mac hissed, arching into the mouth.  "No biting, Xander."

"Not."  He licked over the area he had been teasing and moved down to stare at his cock.  "I don't think lube tastes good, right?"

"Baby wipe," Mac said, pointing at the new box he had bought.

Xander opened it and wiped him clean then went to tease his cock back into hardness.  Mac stiffened nicely in his mouth then Xander shifted up to kiss him.  "Help me?"  Mac stared at him for a minute then helped Xander climb on top to claim himself.  He moaned the whole way down.  It ached a bit but it felt so *good*, so *right* to him.  He whimpered as he shifted up then back down again.

Mac flipped them over and had to pull out for a second but he got Xander where he wanted him and dove back in, driving him insane, staring down at him to watch him.  "Mine," he said firmly over and over until Xander nodded and came for him.  Mac came too and laid down on top of Xander's shoulder, panting hard.  "How do you do that to me?"

"She needed it I guess."  He snuggled in, not minding the smooshing going on.  Mac tried to move so Xander wrapped a thigh around his.  "Stay."

"I sleep on my side, Xander."  Xander let him go that much before gluing himself to Mac's front again, cuddling in.  Mac smiled.  "I like that you're cuddly."  He watched the boy fall asleep, stroking his hair and back, gently making sure he had good dreams tonight.  Mac drifted off, still smiling at his boy's happy and content look.  He'd have to try that again in the morning.  Even if Stella would tease him about having a smiling and happy day later on.


Xander found the shop Willow had found for him, walking inside and immediately sneezing.  "I hate Ocho powder," he complained.  The person behind the register gave him an odd look.  "Sorry, allergic.  Rosenburg sent me to you.  I have a former possession that's getting out of hand.  She came out and tried to eat my new boyfriend last night."

"Is he worthy?"

"More than but she's an alpha bitch and he tops."

"That could be lack of control," she said dryly.

Xander glared at her.  "Self control is not picking up the wooden stake on the shelf next to me and stabbing you in the neck since that's where your heart is."  She backed away, giving him a horrified look.  "By the way, I'm Harris.  From Buffy's crew."

"Oh, damn," she muttered. "I heard you were in town."

"I am."  He moved closer.  "I just need some help with the possession thing.  She's not a happy girl that she's not the alpha bitch in this 'ship.  She likes to bite too."

"What was she?  Hyena, right?"  Xander nodded.  "Female?"

"Pack leader," he said dryly.  She groaned.  "I heard there's a Bruja here who can help me?"

"She's out to lunch.  Don't touch anything that might activate.  I heard you warned someone else last night."

Xander grinned.  "Yup.  Magic goes a bit odd around me now and then."  He found a spot that didn't have too many magical artifacts around it and sat down.  "So, is Willow part of your network or not?  If not, maybe you guys should talk to her."

"We tried once.  She giggled.  Giggling annoys us," she said dryly.  She went back to her duties behind the register.  "Don't touch the pot.  You won't like the thing that comes out to take you this time, Harris."

"Call me Xander."

She looked over.  "Moving locally?"

"Partially.  One boyfriend's here, one's in Miami."  She cackled and he shrugged.  "I like it.  They're good to me.  It's just an alpha bitch clash.  For that matter, I had to make Mac go to work today so he wouldn't scare you guys."

She smirked.  "Think he can?"

"I think he's a former Marine.  He's a cop now."

"Oh."  She nodded.  "Probably a good idea then.  The same one as last night?"  Xander grinned and nodded.  "Interesting and cute."  She looked over as someone came in, waving him back into his seat.  "Not for you, Harris."  The person gave him a horrified look and backed up.

"I'm here for help, not to slay.  Boyfriends made me promise to not slay unless I was being attacked or it was the end of the world."  The person relaxed some.  "Just, no doing magic on me, okay?  It can go wrong.  Very, very wrong.  Even Ethan magic can go wrong."

The older man just nodded and looked at the girl.  "He's here because he was possessed and she tried to eat his boyfriend."

"Interesting.  Is my order in yet?"  She pointed.  "Thank you."  He went to gather what he needed, coming back to find a book added as well.  "Sorry I'm a bit late picking this up."  She shrugged and rang him up, letting him pay with his debit card.  He looked at the boy.  "Is this a lack of self-control?"

"I'm lucky she's kept locked up most of the time," Xander said dryly.  "Giles tried very hard to get her to leave me and she didn't.  Bad call last night from the boyfriend to Willow."

"Ah."  He signed his slip and handed it back, taking his copy and heading out once his order was bagged.

She looked at him.  "You sure you're being harmless?"

"I'll sit here and not talk," he sighed.

She laughed.  "Not that sort. They can tell.  You're radiating hellmouth energy, kiddo."

Xander shrugged slightly.  "A week ago we blew up the school to save everyone from an Ascension.  I probably got hit with some little debris during the blast.  Besides it was under the library we all worked in after hours."  She shuddered.  He nodded.  "Basically.  Yeah."  An older woman walked in and nearly made his skin crawl.  He stood up.  "Bruja, I was sent to you to request help."

She stared at him.  "A hellmouth child.  Are you practicing?"

"No but one of the possessors I carry tried to eat my boyfriend last night in an alpha bitch fight."  She gaped.  He shrugged.  "I'm Xander Harris."  She took a step back.  "I don't have a rep as a killer of everyone, right?"

"No, not at all," she said dryly.  "No less than the rest of your crew," the shopgirl said dryly.

"I'm not.  I only take the hunters and my boyfriends said no hunting unless it was absolutely the last resort or it attacked me.  I'm here for help.  You're safe from me."

The witch stepped closer, staring at him.  "Which possession?  I see three."

"I know about two," he offered.  "A hyena and a soldier.  What one are you seeing?"

"It could be a claim."  She shifted closer.

"I'm not going to hurt you.  I swear on my hellmouth I'm not going to hurt you while you're helping me.  Unless it's unintentional while magic goes screwy around me."

"It's a taint you carry that does that," she said.  She came closer, laying a hand on his neck.  "You are touched and blessed."   The boy blushed.  "Hmm.  Boyfriend?"  He nodded.  "Who are you really?"

"You know, there's been some funny dreams," he said quietly.  "It's of another realm or something."  She nodded, smirking at him.  "Was one then?"  She nodded at that.  "Was all this because of that?"  She smirked and nodded.  "Then I'll practice to be the best helper to my generals that I can.  The hyena still didn't like the boyfriend topping her alphaness since she was a pack leader."

"Interesting.  Lack of control?"

"Boxed up," Xander said dryly.  "Giles couldn't send her out of me."

"No, I'm sure he couldn't."  She humphed and walked into the back area.  "Come along, boy."  He followed, going to help her however she wanted.  "Usually I charge much for this."

"I can pay you some but not a lot.  I don't have a lot of money."

She stared at him. "I require other services from you."

"Will my boyfriend or Giles be mad?"

"Probably your Mister Giles but not the boyfriend."  Xander nodded.  "I require a bit of bone and blood."  Xander gave her an odd look.  "It shouldn't hurt."

He sighed then took off his left shoe.  "I have an extra bit of bone on the side of my foot from a young break of it."  She smiled and came over to work the magic to remove it for him.  That and some blood gathered, then a few hairs.  Then she sat down across from him and got to work on the spell to help him box her up a bit more tightly.  Or at least have her grant the boyfriends topping rights.  She could see what had happened quite clearly in his aura.  She had seen it before.  She knew who his boyfriend was.  It was all very clear to her.  Just as clear as the demon that rushed in to attack them was and Xander defending her was nice.  He got it down and then knocked it out with a heavy iron urn to the head.  She laughed and sat him down to get back to work.  She could commune with the spirits in him.  It would be enough.


Mac looked up as an old woman walked into his office, standing up.  "Ma'am, how can I help you?"

She closed the door.  "It is very clear to me who you are, General."  Mac gaped at her.  "I helped your slave just now."

"He's not a slave here."

"It will resonate.  Though he is one to fuss over someone.  It suits his nature to fuss over others."  She stared at him for a moment then nodded.  "Your boy will be fine.  I have talked to her.  Both of you need to have him sometime soon, together."

"We can see Horatio Sunday."

"Good.  That is in enough time.  I figured it'd take a few weeks since you're both officers."

"Did Xander tell you that?"

She gave him a cool look.  "Some of us can tell, General Marcus."  He went pale and sat down.  "The boy had no need of telling me.  I already knew.  I knew the first time I saw you.  By the way, that was more brought on by the resonance.  Which was aided with how you got here."

"You know about that?"

"Some.  Not much."  She handed over a few books.  "The boy should do some mild studying.  Enough to find shields.  Nothing further.  He's not dangerous with it but it is dangerous for him.  Things are already drawn to him."


"The hellmouth is very powerful and very wanted.  He sat overtop of it for three years helping keep the forces away from trying to use it.  The rest of his life was spent in close proximity to it.  His blood is very powerful.  It was his payment to me actually."  She stared him down.  "He agreed before you can ask."  He nodded once at that, staring at her.  "He should have shields.  That problem with her will be solved.  She knows that you're her *mate*, not trying to take over her pack now.  You'll both be fine.  Oh."  She smirked at him.  "Once he has shields he'll stop setting off magical artifacts by walking close to them.  Those formerly around him were shielded due to the energy that wrapped around him daily.  Here he radiates.  It was strong enough I felt him come into my shop and came back from lunch early to see why that contaminant was allowed."  She stared at him for a moment then nodded.  "You'll be good for the boy.  He is meant to protect a few, not the masses.  It is in his blood you might say."  She smiled.  "By the way, I had him sent home once I was done with him.  You'll find him with a small headache and napping probably.  The bruises are because something came to attack him in my store and he beat it then hit it with an urn."  She smirked.  "He is very strong."

"He is.  Should I worry about those who'd want to take his blood by force?  A suicide patch or something?"

She considered it.  "There are those who would dig him up after he was dead if they knew.  If he has shields they won't come nearly as often.  That is a better idea and much less risky.  He can't set it off by accident or when he's panicking.  You have noticed his lack of self- esteem I'm sure.  His possessions staying are directly related to that.  He had to have something to fill in that void.  They did nicely."  She smiled at him.  "As did the one back then when he was very young."  She clapped her hands.  "Now.  Go home on time tonight.  Do not be scared of him.  Help him with the centering exercises.  It can only help you as well.  They're good when you have a temper tantrum."  She smirked at him.  "Any other questions you might have?"

"How do I contact you directly if something happens?"  She handed over a card and he nodded.  "Thank you for helping him."

She smirked again. "He is a very sweet young man, General.  Always has been until you piss him off.  Remember that.  As any other person who finds themselves with caring rules after not having any do, he'll push some boundaries.  Slowly in his case I think, but you never know."  She left, going back to her shop.

Mac looked at the books, then opened the first one to read.  He had work he had to be doing but he wanted to find out more about these things he was going to be helping Xander with.  He sent a text message to Horatio that the problem last night had been solved and fixed.  That they'd be seeing him Sunday.  Horatio sent back a 'good, it means I don't have to do paperwork' and made him smile.  It was a good reason to blow off the paperwork.


Mac looked at Xander that night when he got home, giving the tired looking boy a smile.  "It's not that bad.  I looked over the shielding exercises and it looks a lot like meditation to me."  He sat down under Xander's feet, stroking his legs to keep him calm.  "It'll do us both good.  She said so."

"She came to see you?"

"She also said she knew about our past."

Xander lifted the arm over his eyes to look at him.  "She said she could see it in my aura.  Some witches are funny that way."  He sat up with a moan, looking at Mac.  "I'm sorry I brought this onto you."

Mac kissed him then smiled again.  "I've seen worse, Xander."  Xander gaped.  "Besides, I think Horatio and I both agreed that we believed in this stuff after graduation."  Xander grimaced.  "Relax.  It's nothing harmful.  She said it'll help keep you from activating everything in that shop around the corner too."  That got a faint smile.  "And it'll help my temper at work.  Danny would be pleased if I never yelled at him again."

"Did he deserve it?"

"Maybe.  Danny and I have one of those complicated relationships."

"You're not going to share me with him, right?"

"No, I'm not going to share you with him.  I'd never sleep with Danny.  He'd drive me insane."  He kissed him again before he could say it was his hyperactivity, which Xander had, but Xander's wasn't as annoying as Danny's was for some reason.  "All right?"  Xander nodded, looking more relieved.  "Is everything good with you?  If I try it again I won't get bitten?"

"You taste good," Xander said with a teasing grin.  "I might bite anyway but not to eat you this time.  She and the hyena had a talk about mates instead of you trying to take over the pack from me."

"So she thought it was a dominance fight?"  Xander nodded.  "The sex wasn't self- explanatory?"

"She decided we weren't in heat.  You pounced for no reason.  I have no idea when she goes into heat.  But now she understands that humans are strange and don't need to be in heat so she'll only nibble with me and enjoy it since the witch made sure she knew there were no cubs coming."

"That would be a bit strange, yes," Mac said dryly.

"Don't tell that to Willow.  She'll do it."  Mac gaped.  Xander nodded.  "She will.  She's like that.  Just don't."

"I won't even talk about kids.  I don't want kids and if we do decide we want children some year far in the future, we'll adopt."  Xander squealed and hugged him.  "Thank you."  He took a real kiss, moaning when Xander slid into his lap and started to brush their cocks together.  "Nice."

"Very nice," Xander purred.  "Dinner?"

"After this.  Then dinner, then shower and bed?" he suggested, arching up a bit more to get better contact.

"Sounds like a plan to me."  He shifted his knees further out to get deeper into him and kissed him again, swearing when the phone rang.  "Want me to stop?"

Mac answered it.  "What?" he said in greeting, pulling Xander down to kiss him quietly while he listened to Stella tell him about the newest body.  "Why call me back?  I'm not on call tonight."  He grimaced.  "You're sure?"  He nodded.  "We'll be there.  There's a reason, trust me."  He hung up and looked at Xander.  "Someone who works at the store was just found dead."

"The Bruja or the younger girl who was her granddaughter?  She was running the shop."

"She had her paystub from there.  I don't know."  Xander got up and grabbed his sneakers, letting Mac put back on his shoes and grab his gun so they could leave together.  "Buckle up," he ordered once he was behind the wheel.  Xander did that and they drove off into the night.  Thirty minutes later and they made it to the scene.  He looked around.  "This isn't a good sign," he said, noticing the destruction of the area.

Xander looked then shook his head.  "Someone scuffed out ritual markings."  He got out and walked around Don since he was in his way, pulling Danny up to lead him back beside Don.  "Look at the general outline, Danny.  Someone scuffed out something."  He pointed.  "There were things there.  Probably candles or torches as well."  They stared at him.  He grinned.  "My best friend Willow is Wiccan.  I've seen some pretty strange shit.  And that's a pentagram."  They both groaned, going back to the figure to talk to Stella and Aiden.  Xander looked around, then shook his head.  "Something's not like the figures I know."  He looked around then hopped up on top of Mac's SUV to get a better look, frowning.  "Stella, move please?"  She looked up then moved.  "Backward, not sideways."  She moved backward.  He frowned, then slowly shook his head.  "Move, everyone out of the pentagram!"  They all moved.  He slid down and came over, looking at the body.  "Aw, shit!"  He looked at Mac.  "Salt and I need Willow on the phone now."  He did that, sending a patrol officer for salt.

"Any sort of salt?" Danny asked.

"Anything."  He listened to her babble.  "Willow, I have a pentagram that's scratched open but it's a trap under the sacrificial body.  I'm getting salt sent to me.  Only three figures in the center."  He looked at the nearest scratched out one.  "Kuthlu maybe?  They scratched over them after they drew them.  Really?"  He nodded.  "Didn't realize you could do that.  Okay.  I start with the figures then the outer ring, right?"  He nodded once.  "Then the body is....  It's a fresh body, they're going to need to look for clues.  Sure."  He hung up and tossed the phone back, taking the carton of salt from the curious patrol guy.  "Best friend's a Wiccan and she said this is a bad guy doing it.  Stella, this is salt."  He let her see and take note.  "It's going into the figures."  He started on the nearest one, looking at the body as he did so.  He moved to the next one going clockwise, doing it.  A twitch from the body.  The next one and the body rose up, floating a bit.  "Leave this realm," he hissed in Latin.

"You are not of us.  You have no power over us."

Xander looked at her.  Then he burst out laughing.  "Sorry, but heard that song and dance before."  He moved to the outer ring.  Then he paused.  "I'm not releasing you.  You want out, you take me and make an out."  She shrieked and lunged for him, still floating.  Xander moved and let her run into the boundary around the working area.  "Uh-huh.  Thought so."

"You are to be mine.  I need a fresh body," it sneered.

Xander stared at her.  "Try me."  It moved closer and no matter how much he wanted to run, he wouldn't in front of Mac or his friends.  The thing touched him and screamed when it hit the new protections on him.  He grinned.  "Knew it'd work."  He tossed salt on her and started to do the chant Willow had told him to do, over and over, getting louder and louder as she shrieked and wailed and tried to beat him.  More salt, more chanting, until the body finally collapsed.  He looked down then shook his head.  "Won't work.  Don't believe you."  No movement.  "I can feel you," he tried again.  Still no movement.  He moved to the outer edges of the pentagram and pulled out some salt.  He dropped a few pieces and the body came back so he pulled out his cross and hit her with it.  She shrieked and he went back to the chanting.  Finally the body smoked and the smoke dissipated.  He looked at the new position of the body then nodded and undid the lines around the edges, frowning at Don when he glared at him.  "What?"

"Are you some new age thingy?"

"No, Willow is.  I just dealt with this stuff at home."  He felt someone come up behind him and saw Don's look so he turned and punched the body, then pulled Mac's gun and shot her in the forehead.  She fell and didn't move.  He grinned at Mac.  "I reloaded you with silver bullets last night.  Did you mind?"

"No, not in the least.  Next time let me know," Mac said, grinning at Xander.  "Nice work."

"Thank you.  And dinner's still in the fridge."  He handed him his gun back and looked around.  "She's dead now."  They just nodded and stared.  He walked over and put his cross against her forehead, leaving it there when nothing happened. "There, better?"  Everyone nodded and cautiously came closer but it was fine.  He looked at Mac.  "Subway?"

"No, you can stay here," Danny called.  "I'm not gonna be here unless you are."

"Yes, Danny," he sighed, hopping up to sit on the hood of Mac's SUV.  "I'll be right here and be a good boy."  He looked at the confused looking patrol guy who had gotten him salt.  "I'm from Cali.  Near LA."  That just got a nod and a funny look.  "Hell, you should see the gangs use it."  The patrol officer walked off shaking his head.

Don gave him a funny look.  "There's a gang who uses magic?"

"Two or three, mostly not-human."

"Okay then," he decided, walking off before Xander told him anything else.  "We know who to call the next time this stuff happens."

"I'll give you Willow's number.  I was donut support."  Mac gave him a look.  "I was this last year," he muttered.

"Don't put yourself down again, Xander," Mac said quietly.  "You did more than that even if all you did was follow orders.  You were important.  Remember how many more people would be dead if you hadn't helped."  Xander nodded, looking at his hands.  Mac tipped his face up.  "Should I go beat Willow and Buffy for you?"

"No thanks.  They tried."

"I know they did."  He patted him on the cheek and smiled.  "I want you to do whatever you want, Xander.  Even study this stuff if you want."

"I don't wanna be a Watcher and have to wear tweed and talk funny or read funny languages, more than I already do, or have to watch a girl go into the field and die," he babbled.

Mac smiled.  "Then don't.  You can be a civilian contractor to the cause.  Hold on, you read languages?"  Xander nodded slowly.  "You barely passed English the last four years running and you read other languages?"  Xander nodded slowly again.  "What do you read?"

"Some Latin and Greek.  Some Summerian.  A bit of Russian here and there.  Um, a bit of a few demon ones that wrote things down?" he guessed.  "I don't know.  We had a translation book and we had to look things up. You learn some of the common words because you keep seeing them over and over again.  Sometimes you had to learn.  Not everything was translated."

"Good!"  He smiled.  "Then we'll work on firming up that skill as well."  Xander gave him a confused look.  "It'll turn Horatio on," he said quietly.  Xander blushed but nodded at that, grinning a bit.  "Stella, you need us?"

"If he moves from there, I'm leaving," Danny yelled.

"Fine," Xander called, smiling at him.  "I made you cold soup."

"Is it good?"

"It was when I had some."

"Then we'll have it when we get home."  He looked at the team again.  "I should go help."  Xander gave him a nudge so he went to help them.  It was now a mess of a scene but they had taken plenty of pictures.  He looked at the places Xander had put salt.  He even knelt down to scrape it away.  "Xander, how did you see figures in this?"

"They kinda stick out to me now and then."  Mac looked back at him.  "Since earlier today.  I could kinda feel it before."

"She said your town had everything shielded against the radiation."  Xander looked confused.  "I'll go over that later."  Xander nodded and he got back to work.  This was an interesting gift.  Maybe Xander could use it somehow while he stayed. Or even when he let him go to Miami to be with Horatio.

Stella looked over at him.  "So, you're going to Miami when?"

"Late Saturday night.  We'll be back very late Sunday," he said quietly.

"Sure.  I'll cover for you."  She got back to work on the body.  "How do we note this?"

Mac shrugged.  "Make up something plausible in case it gets to trial."

"Will it get to trial?"

"Someone killed her.  If someone doesn't kill whoever does it, it's up to us to do so."  He looked at her.  "Even if we can't outright say what happened."

Xander came over and grabbed his phone, walking off again to call the shop.  "It's Xander."  He listened to the obviously crying woman.  "She was used to summon Kuthlu it looked like.  Trio inside the pentagram."  He listened to her then nodded.  "I did.  She's safe.  That would be fine, I can have someone tell their ME," he said quietly.  "What should I tell Mac to put in his report?"  He nodded, finding some paper and a pen Mac kept in the SUV to make notes.  "That'll work probably.  If not, I'll have him come see you.  Thank you.  In person, yes.  No, they were mostly here," he sighed.  "I'm giving them Willow's number directly since she told me how to deal with it."  He smiled.  "That'll work.  Thank you."  He hung up and walked the notes over to Mac.  "Why the person picked her in language suitable for a coverup by government Feds or local cops."  He walked back to the car to sit on the hood again.  The body shifted and Stella yelped, getting away from it.  "Those are the normal stiffening twitches," Xander called.  "Just like normal.  It won't happen again.  By the way, her mother's sending down their High Priestess to do the last rights.  They're Santeria."  Mac nodded at that, letting Don make that note.  "She said if that's not good enough you can come see her."

"I will."  He tucked the notes into Stella's case and finished up with his part of the work.  All the samples got put into the collection box.  Danny stood up and carried over his too.  "Done?"  Danny nodded.  "Let me know if we're going to have problems with the processing."  He walked back to the SUV, taking his phone back.  He smiled at Xander.  "You know, the more you stay around the more I find you as necessary as air and coffee."  Xander preened at that compliment.  He patted him.  "Into the SUV and no scratching the paint job, Xander."

He slid down and checked, knocking off some of the dirt he had transferred.  "I'm a good boy."

"You're a very good boy.  We're heading home," he announced.  The others hurried up and finished, Stella bringing over the cross once the body was bagged up and taken off.  "Thank you, Stella."  He got in to drive, Xander scrambling to join him, and they headed home to the cold soup and Mac checking Xander for injuries from the fight, which turned into cuddling that night.


Xander wandered around the apartment talking to Giles.  "I don't know, Giles.  He doesn't seem to mind that I know that stuff and he's not freaked out but it's freaking me out that he doesn't mind if that makes sense.  Then last night with the thing and the body and that stuff.  No, pretty standard sacrificial dead lamb play," he said grimly.  "Yeah, annoyed it to death.  The other CSI on Mac's team said they weren't going to do anything without me there so I couldn't slink off into the shadows.  Because it might hurt his job, Giles."  He sighed and nodded.  "I know.  Oh, the Bruja I talked to yesterday did shield her better, had a talk with her, and it's all good now.  She said I need to work on shields.  Yeah, that stuff.  Mac and she talked about magical radiation poisoning too."  He smirked at Giles' blustering.  "Think it'll make me sick or just glowy?  I figure the shields would help that as well."  He nodded.  "Please?"  He smiled at the promise of books.

"No, Sunday we're going to see Horatio in Miami.  Because ... Giles, do you *really* want those details?"  Giles spluttered and started to say something.  "Say one more word and I'll give Ethan your fucking AmEx number.  Buffy had it written down on her hand one day, that's how."  He spluttered some more but said he had no right to say anything.  Xander nodded.  "It's my life, Giles.  No, they want me to stay and I'm thinking hard about it."  He turned to pace in the other direction, listening to him.  "Giles, if you actually needed me would you call?" he asked finally.  He just nodded at the 'probably' answer.  "Are the Feds that're coming going to be enough if we have another world endage issue?"  He sighed then sat down, holding his forehead.  "If you're not sure would you call?"  He smiled.

"Thank you, Giles.  No, they want me to stay.  We're still working out the New York/Miami thing that's going on.  We're not sure yet.  We're dealing.  Giles, have you ever had sex so good it triggered a past possession?" he asked bluntly.  Giles coughed and choked but eventually said no.  "That's what happened my first time with Mac, Giles.  Yeah, exactly.  And they want me to stay.  Please soften that blow for the girls?"  He smiled.  "Thanks.  Well, I did find a mini launcher in one place locally.  Someone miniaturized it."  He grinned. "It's on my keychain.  Mac made me promise to tell him before I had to use it."  He nodded.  "Exactly.  I heard that the agents were worried that I might prompt a strange response and somehow get more weapons.  I don't know," he sighed.

"It's expensive to live here.  I should be paying at least part of my own upkeep.  I'm not like Anya, I don't want to be kept.  I wouldn't mind a boyfriend and I don't mind fussing over them, but I don't want to be owned.  Exactly.  So I'm looking at part-time jobs this week.  I have about two thousand from my road trip fund," he admitted when Giles asked him.  "No, Mac said I can stay with him.  He all-but demanded I stay with him."  He smiled at that offer.  "I don't think I need it, Giles, but if you want that's up to you.  No, I don't want you to threaten Mac.  He's got enough on his plate without you sending a Buffy gram.  I already told his coworkers that Buffy would kill me if I messed this up.  Because this is a more normal thing but kinda the same thing she had with Angel, Giles.  Exactly.  If I mess this up she's going to be offended on behalf of the Love Gods and she's going to beat my ass before Willow turns me into something soft and cuddly to be their pet.

"Oh, and do NOT let her look for nieces and nephews in the future.  Mac might not want kids and if we do, we'll adopt some decade far away from now.  Thank you.  A few.  The one around the corner is a techno-pagan.  I asked if Willow was part of the network and they gave me funny looks.  Yup, them.  The Bruja's granddaughter was too.  I'm fine, Giles, really.  I can even sit today and everything."  Giles choked again so he smirked.  "Why would I need something on ritual oils?" he asked at the offer, sounding confused.  "Giles, I'm not going to....  Oh, like that?  Well, you can send it if you have a spare copy.  It's gotta be interesting.  Sure.  I'm here.  Thank you.

"No, tell them I love them but Mac spoiled me horribly.  He and Horatio decided they hate my clothes and they made me get some new ones.  Including new underwear.   So I'll be bringing the stuff from storage in Sunnydale out here.  Huh?  Letters?  Sure, forward them too.  Thanks, Giles."  He hung up and leaned back, getting comfortable.  He had a few hours before Mac came home and he needed to rest up for later.  He looked at his cellphone then decided to do something about his old number.  He was roaming big time and his cellphone bill this month was going to be horrible.  He sighed and got up to deal with that and find a storage area for all his old stuff in Sunnydale.  Then he'd bribe Willow to send it out to the new spot for him.  It was a good plan.  His generals would be proud of him for it.


Mac came home that night to tv dinners and Xander reading something on the couch.  "Shielding?"

"Nope.  Willow sent it."  He looked over at him.  "Shielding stuff starts tomorrow.  Today Xander has a headache so I'm reading for fun."  He went back to reading.

"That's a big, dusty book for fun reading."  He came over to read over his shoulder, staring at the funny language.  "What is that in?"  Xander handed him the translation guide, earning a smile.  "How well do you read it?"

"About every tenth word right now.  It's a smutty romance."  He marked his place and closed the book with the translation guide inside it.  He grinned.  "How was work?"

"Much less exciting today."  He kissed him.  "Did anyone call?"

"One message on the machine but I don't know how to work that one so I didn't touch it.  It came while I was out changing my crappy cellphone's number."

"Crappy cellphone?" he teased.

"I got it used.  The guy here was horrified and gave me a better one for free if I signed up with a new contract.  This one's better and it has games too."  He grinned.  "So I've got it charging and I've already sent them my email address and all that stuff."

"How are you doing your email?"


"We could do it from here, Xander."

"I don't want to run up your phone bill, Mac."

"I have dial up for when I want to work."  He took another kiss and went to change, coming out to save their dinners from the oven.  Xander was stretching and he watched, smiling at the way the body moved for him.  He found the answering machine and replayed the message, smiling at Horatio's calm voice.

"If I have a case with a bruja or brujo I'm going to demand you send Xander down," Horatio said calmly.  "Today's was not happy with me.  For some reason he saw me and took off running.  I got messy on my thirty-seven block chase of the man."  Xander giggled at that.  "Next time I'm going to call Xander down and make him talk to the man.  I'm sure he'll confuse him until he gives up since he killed two people to bring a God to power again."  He sighed.  "On the other hand, he confessed very nicely once Calleigh went evil on him.  By the way, guys, my team wants to meet Xander on Sunday so we can't spend the entire day cooped up together.  Speed is getting pushy on Alexx's behalf since I told Alexx no.  Telling his adopted mother 'no' is apparently not sitting well with Timothy so he's been scowling at me all day.  I had to give him a dumpster job in retaliation.  So he had Calleigh and Eric scowl in his place while he was gone."  Mac laughed at that. "I see no way out of this unless we hide somewhere they can't find us and unfortunately I have made my team into excellent CSIs.  By the way, Xander, don't pack anything.  I got you some clothes down here in the sizes Mac told me you wear.  I want you see you in them so wear whatever you want on the way down.  I'll dress you for my pleasure once you're here.  Also, no matter what Mac told you that first night, I'm not the kinky one in this relationship."  You could hear the smile in his voice.  "That is Mac, no matter how much he protests."

"Sure it is," Mac said dryly.  "I'll have to refute that later."

"If he says he's not, tell him I have proof and he'll blush.  Stella sent it to me in an email recently."  Mac groaned, hiding his head on the counter, shaking it slightly.  Horatio laughed. "I can just imagine his face right now.  Kiss him and make it better for me.  I'll see you both late Saturday night.  We can head right home from the airport.  Behave until you see me and call me tomorrow, Xander."  Horatio's voice hung up.

"To delete this message," the machine started in its mechanical voice.  Mac turned it off before it could tell him how to delete it.  It'd automatically save itself.

Xander grinned.  "She has kinky blackmail?"

"Probably from a case we had at a leather club.  We had to go undercover and I took Don."  He brought their food over and got drinks, coming over to kiss Xander.  "Eat with me then snuggle?"  Xander beamed and sat down to eat with him and snuggle during it.  "What else did you do today?"

"Talked to Giles."  Mac looked at him.  "On my cell.  I'm not running up the house's phone bill."

"I have a great long distance plan, Xander."

"Yes, but I feel like I should be paying for part of things.  I'm not a slave."

Mac looked at him then nodded.  "I know you're not and you are paying your own way, Xander.  You're doing a lot of things that I don't have time to do.  Like vacuum today."  Xander shook his head.  "You didn't?"

"Three days ago.  I sprayed carpet freshening stuff today."

"Another thing I don't have time to do.  So it's good for me until you decide what you're going to do.  All right?"  Xander nodded.  "Good."  He smiled.  "Besides, it's been a long time since I could spoil anyone.  Claire hated me spoiling her."  Xander gave him a sheepish look.  "I know you'd rather spoil but you're doing a lot, honestly.  They say that people who take care of the house should earn about a forty-thousand-dollar paycheck a year for all the work they do.  So relax and we'll work that out."  Xander nodded and dug in again.  "Did you want to do anything tonight?"

"You're trying too hard."  Xander looked at him.  "If you want to stay in tonight, we'll stay in.  It's not like I'm used to going out and doing things.  So we'll snuggle in front of the tv like most normal couples."  Someone knocked on the door.  "I'm busy," he called in Spanish.  They knocked again and he sighed, getting up to answer it.  He looked at the Fed standing there.  "Yes?" he asked dryly.

"Mr. Harris, can we please see your keyring?"

"No."  He shut the door in his face and went back to the table, smiling at Mac.  "I told Giles about it. Guess someone's bugged.  Us or them you think?"

"I'll run the bug sensor tonight," he said, eating another bite, staring at the door.  "Usually they don't give up that easily."

"They'll pounce me tomorrow on my way to the new storage area.  Willow's moving my stuff for me then so I don't have to hire movers.  All I had to promise was to name any pets after her for now because I was adamant that I wasn't having kids.  Then Giles reminded her that's screwing with nature and it's a bad thing."  He looked toward the doorway.  "If you're listening, Willow said the next Fed that upset her was going to be my new dog I'd have to name after her."  The agent outside the door hurried off.  He grinned and dug in again.  "Apparently they've seen her with PMS already.  I'm so proud of my Willow buddy."

Mac put a forkful of his dinner into Xander's mouth.  "Eat, you're being silly."  Xander laughed but dug in again, making Mac a happy boyfriend who could ignore the bad thoughts.


Horatio looked at the tired pair getting out of the secured area of the airport.  "What happened?"

Xander grimaced.  "There was someone who had a seizure on plane and the idiot air hostess decided it was because she was a terrorist.  Refused to get someone medical for her but had us grounded in Maryland for *six hours*."  Xander gave him a look.  "Mac finally had enough after one hour and she had another one, pulling off impressive Marine skills to get the pilot to call for an ambulance at the very least and it got us offloaded into a nice, cell-like conference room for a bit.  They came to talk to him; Mac gave a concise report five times and they switched out the air hostess because a bunch of us were making 'gonna sue you' calls back to our relatives from our cellphones.  The agents were not pleased and the airline was even less pleased when a news crew got called because someone looked at their Newsweek and made a call to the tipline."  Horatio moaned.  "So it's going to be on the news tonight that they grounded and nearly put us in Gitmo for someone having a seizure and a glorified air waitress not knowing what one was.  And let me tell you, when she got back on the plane she nearly fell off the plane and ran off crying after Mac started to rant at her and a few others joined in.  Including the pilot.  So we're here, finally, and I'm cranky and Mac's tired, and we're sorry if we're annoying tonight."

Horatio pulled him closer to hug.  "You're not annoying, Xander."

"He can be but it's his giggling while he sleeps," Mac told him, earning a swat from Xander.  "You do."  He got his own hug.  "Home?"

"Home," Horatio agreed, leading them out to his hummer.  One of the transit guys was staring at it oddly.  Horatio glared.  "Problems?"

"No, Lieutenant, sir!" he snapped, backing away at the evil looks the other two were giving him.  "Just that you're in non-parking, even in emergencies, sir."

"I'm picking up consultants.  I didn't expect it to take that long."

"They kept us at the gate for a minute and gave us the 'we're not responsible for the idiocy of our people' lecture while we were still on the plane," Xander said dryly.  "It did not work and the guy who came in to talk to us got an earful when I went off.  Twice."  He grinned sweetly.  "So I've already told him I'm going to sue their asses, and I'm going to tell every single reporter who ever asks me, no matter how old I am, and yes, I want to see them out of business because their service sucks and they didn't even have peanuts for us who weren't allergic.  He gave me a horrified look and slowly backed away.  Then I mentioned that my best friend worked with Feds and she was going to hear by dawn.  So he might wanna clean house and fix this shit.  Soon.  He just nodded and ran off the plane so we could *finally* get free."  He got into the back, buckling up without having to be told this time.  Their bag went beside him and he relaxed.  "Can I have Willow move us like she moved the stuff I had in storage?"

"No, Xander.  It's probably dangerous," Mac said calmly.  Horatio snickered quietly at that, starting the engine. "He gets mean and scary when he's tired.  I'll remember that and sic him onto my boss the next time they want me to play politics."

Xander looked at him.  "Your boss is worshiping a demon, you know that, right?"  Mac gave him a horrified look.  Xander nodded.  "Both the Chief of Detectives and the Chief of Police are both marked on their backs.  It was in that picnic picture.  I don't have the books to look it up but I did scan the picture into the computer for Willow to do that.  She said she'd email you directly.  That way she could threaten you to treat me right without having to use a Buffy-gram."

"I think it's fair your friends get to threaten us," Horatio said.  "We threatened them."

"Good point," Xander said. He nodded a bit and yawned.  "I'm sorry if I all I do is sleep tonight, Horatio."

"That's all I expected tonight, Xander.  Tomorrow I expect to fix breakfast for you and then see you dressed in some of the stuff I bought you."  Xander grinned.  "Then we'll work out a time-share with you so I get you part of the time too."

"Sure."  He grinned at Mac, who was growling slightly.  "I think he thinks he's going to have us both."

"I'm sure he will," Horatio said dryly, turning onto the interstate.  "The same as I will be having both of you eventually.  So far Mac's hogged you and soon it'll be my turn."  Xander blushed.  "Though I do hope we don't have to call Willow in the middle of the night?"

"We'd better not.  She wanted details the last time," Mac complained.

Xander cackled.  "Oz must be having issues and they're not having sex.  Willow doesn't usually like to talk about sex."

"She wanted details of what we were doing that time," Mac assured him.  He reached back to smooth down some of the hair.  "Rest.  It's a good thirty minute drive and if we have to, we'll carry you inside."  Xander nodded, unbuckling so he could use the bag as a pillow and curl up on the back seat.  Mac smiled at him then at Horatio.  "He spoils me horribly.  I have dinner waiting.  He vacuumed.  He fusses."

"Good.  I could use some spoiling and some time spoiling him."

"He tried to debate with me about spoiling him.  He didn't win but he tried."

Horatio smirked.  "We're more stubborn than even his friends are, Mac.  We'll win that argument and get him to like spoiling."

"He said he wanted to pay part of the living expenses."

"That's nice of him but I make ten thousand more a year than you do and I know you make a very good salary."  Mac smiled and nodded.

"Retirement funds could use it then," Xander said quietly.  "There's no massively spoiling me or I'll turn into a brat.  Spoil me with attention, not things, guys.  I don't need a diamond encrusted cock ring."  Mac gave him an odd look.  "Willow sent me the picture in the mail.  Suggested if I really was going to be spoiled I should ask for it."

"No, I don't think that's the sort of diamond ring you'll eventually be getting, Xander," Mac said, shaking his head.  "Sleep, silly."  Xander yawned and nodded, falling asleep on them.  He smiled at Horatio.  "He does have some very naughty ideas though."

"Hmm.  Yes he does."  He smiled and turned on the radio, groaning when his phone rang.  "Get that for me?"  He handed it over.

Mac opened the phone.  "What, Speedle?"  He smirked. "Yes, this is Taylor.  Watch the news tonight?  We were delayed in Maryland.  No, we just got here.  Because Xander's cranky too."  He listened to him sound confused.  "You'll figure it out.  You're a CSI.  Not tonight, Speedle.  Tomorrow, late afternoon, not tonight."  He hung up on him.  "He wanted to know if they could ambush us tonight."

"No, I don't think it's a good idea," Horatio said.  His phone rang again. "That's either Eric or Alexx."

Mac looked.  "It's coming up Eric.  Yes, Eric?" he answered.  "We're on our way back.  Why are you at Horatio's house?"  He looked at Horatio.  "There's a surprise party."  Horatio gave him an odd glance then shook his head.  "Horatio said there wasn't."  He laughed.  "Eric, watch the news.  We were on that plane in Maryland and Xander's asleep.  Only if it means we get all day tomorrow."  He smiled.  "Then we can stand maybe an hour.  Because I had to work today as well.  Sure.  See you soon."  He hung up.  "If they can pounce us tonight they won't be back until dinner tomorrow.  If not, Eric said he's bringing his entire family over for breakfast to meet us."

"I doubt that'll be allowed," Horatio said firmly, taking the phone back to call him by feel.  "Eric."  He listened to him babble.  "One hour, an hour and a half at most.  It's been a long day, Eric.  Am I clear?  Good.  Make that clear to Timothy and Alexx as well.  Yes, I know we were talking about a Xander.  Xander is presently asleep."

Xander leaned over and took the phone, listening to the confused sounding voice.  "We had a six hour enforced layover in Maryland, Eric.  Yes, this is Xander.  No, I'm tired.  One and a half hours at the most or I'm calling my best friends and they might be girls but they can kick the Army's ass.  Am I clear?"  He nodded and smirked.  "That's fine. Dinner's good.  We can do dinner tomorrow but we fly back at eight.  Make that clear and it'll be fine.  Thank you, Eric.  No, I'm tired.  It's been a long day.  I was sleeping until you called.  Good!"  He hung up and tossed the phone back to Mac.  "They'll quit calling and hide.  Eric said he'd tell them that we're tired.  They'll be over for dinner and give us plenty of time to get to the airport."  He laid back down and let himself drift off again.

Mac smirked at Horatio.  "You should've seen the scene where it had strange stuff.  He waded in and told them what was going on and saved everyone from being eaten by the thing in the dead body."

Horatio gave him an odd look.  "I should hear more about that."  He shook his head quickly.  "I know you said there was one and he had helped."

"He did.  Danny decided the next time he has one of those sort of calls, he's dragging Xander with him.  No matter what he's claimed Xander."

Horatio snickered.  "We'll see."  He got off on an exit ramp and headed down toward his neighborhood.  "We should park somewhere and make them wait."

"Then Speed will pout at me."

"Fine."  He grinned at him.  "Spanking?"

"It's not my thing and I doubt Xander would like it, but if you have a corporal punishment relationship with your CSI I can see why they jump so hard when you call," he teased back.  Horatio burst out in cackles and Mac snickered.  "I think we could even change Eric's sluttish ways if we spanked him enough."

"Don't tempt me.  His last case had one of his many ex's involved."

"I'm surprised it happens as infrequently as it does."

"So are we.  Speed's been teasing him for days."  He took a right corner and watched lights come on behind him.  He pulled over and got out, glaring at the stupid young officer.  "Yes, Officer...  Mcalvoy?"

"Sir, I need to see ID, sir?"

Horatio pulled up his PD badge.  "Is that good enough?"

"No, sir.  You were weaving back there."  He stared at him.  "I'm sorry, Lieutenant, but you were weaving.  If you're that tired you shouldn't be driving."

Horatio gave him a look then walked off laughing.  "I'm not tired, son.  I was answering a desperate call from one of my team who was trying to ambush me at home."  He handed over his ID.  "Go ahead if you feel you must."

"I must, sir.  Remember, I don't care if you are a brother-in-arms.  The law still applies."

"I like the sentiment but this is annoying."

The officer smirked at him.  "Then next time don't talk to your team.  Let them work it out so they don't cause injuries to themselves and others with their stupidity."  He finished the ticket and handed it over.  "Have a better night, sir."  He got back into his car and drove off.

Horatio glared at his car's tail end, going to make note of it on the back of the ticket.  "Apparently he doesn't like CSI."

"Someone's going to be on dog crap detail," Mac agreed.  Horatio and he shared a smirk and they pulled back into traffic to head home.  Once they got there, Mac got out and looked at the sleeping boy.  He was snoring.  There was no getting him up for a bit.  "Go open the door?" he asked.

Horatio looked at his house.  "They can do it."  He walked around and helped Mac gently get Xander off the seat, grabbing the bag as well.  "You brought clothes?"

"For me.  You told him not to pack."  They carried Xander inside, ignoring the people staring at them.  "We're tired, people," he said finally.  They tucked Xander into the bed and came out to find everyone still staring.  "That was Xander, yes."

Alexx blinked then glared at Horatio.  "Two of them?  You needed two of them?"

Horatio smirked.  "Yes."  She gaped and he went into the kitchen.  "Did anyone think to make dinner or snacks?  Mac's got to be starving."

"Xander bought fast food for the flight," Mac admitted, following him.  Horatio's team was so cute to stand there and gape.

Speed looked at the closed bedroom door then at Horatio.  "Is that the one Stella sent us pictures of?"  Horatio looked back and nodded, smirking just a bit.  "That's cool I guess."  He looked at the others.  "He's eighteen, dark hair, just graduated high school from that place that had the gas explosion.  They were there I think."  Horatio nodded at that.  "Stella said he pretends to be dumb but he's not really.  Untrained but not dumb.  He knows something about the strange stuff and if we ever have to run into it, ask him first if he knows anything."  Eric and Calleigh both nodded and went to help put out the snacks they had brought over.  Alexx just stared at him.  He shrugged.  "They were on that plane that got diverted for someone having a fight, Alexx."

"Seizure.  The air hostess decided it was a terrorist bio-attack," Mac corrected.  "Took over an hour for her to call an ambulance and I had to pull my weight to get the captain to.  The Feds were not happy and Xander's vowed everlasting pain to them."  Alexx gaped at him.  He grinned. "It's odd but it works for us, Alexx."

"Clearly.  You look well rested and fed for the first time that I've seen you."  She moved closer.  "You are going to treat Horatio right?  Before I prove I can take apart a body?"

"Yes, I'll treat him very well.  So will Xander, Alexx.  Though if you give him that same speech, he might sic his female friends on you and they're tougher than half the Marines I know."  She burst out laughing.  "Not kidding."  He smiled and kissed her on the cheek. "It's good to see you too."

"Uh-huh.  How are we solving this city problem?"

"We'll trade Xander back and forth plus use all our vacation days for now," Horatio told her.  She stared at him.  "We will."  He smiled and ate a bite of cheese on cracker.  Xander came wandering out in the boxers they had left on him and gave him a hug.  "Go back to bed, Xander.  I'll introduce you around tomorrow."  Xander made whimpering noises so he kissed him and gave him a treat, earning a smile and him going back to bed with Mac's help.  "Night.  We'll be in soon."  Xander waved limply but went back down.

Calleigh coughed to clear her blush.  "He's cute, Horatio.  You have good taste."

"Yes he does," Mac agreed, making her blush again.  He smirked at her.  "You'll get used to Xander.  He's been surrounded by girls for the last few years."

"Does he shoe shop?"

Mac laughed.  "He said he's been forced to but he hates to shop for himself and likes the second-hand clothes look."

Horatio grimaced.  "I don't have anything against it but I do like to see him in new, soft things."  Mac gave him a smile and a picture, making him happy.  "Did we buy that one?"

"For a date."

Horatio put it aside and kissed him.  "Thank you."

"Welcome.  I knew you'd approve."  He took another kiss.  "I went with him to the second-hand shops too.  That way he got nicer things.  Ones that aren't loud prints."

Horatio smiled.  "I think you're wonderful for that."

"I made him start wearing them over single color outfits so he wouldn't clash."

"Even better."  He took another kiss and Mac moaned this time.

"Not that we don't enjoy the floor show but we wanted to make sure we knew about your new boyfriends," Speed said, giving Horatio a look when he got a scowl sent his way.  "We should.  They're yours, we'll expect to see them now and then.  The lab is like a family so they're in-laws."

Mac looked at him.  "Xander can be a bit sarcastic but you'll get along just fine, Speed.  He and Danny do. You two will.  Even Aiden does, though she does give me odd looks and checks the way I walk to make sure he didn't take me too hard."  Speed blushed at that, just nodding.

"Dinner is at four, right?" Eric said.  Horatio nodded.  "Then we can meet him then.  Night, guys, night Horatio."  He fled.

"I should probably get my beauty sleep too," Calleigh said, still bright red.  She kissed Mac on the cheek.  "Welcome to our family.  You can't steal him yet."  She fled too.

Speed snickered.  "This is not how we expected this to go.  We expected them to get in on time, we'd let you guys have some time to...reconnect, then we'd barge in and do the 'hi, we're your new in-laws' speech, then let you guys have more sex."  Alexx nodded at that.

"Come for dinner tomorrow," Mac ordered.  That got a nod and he left, leaving Alexx. "You too unless you want to tuck us both in as well?"

"I'm going to be making sure you both treat my boy well.  Am I clear?"

"Very," Mac agreed.  "Xander loves to spoil, Alexx.  It's not a problem.  Even if we should have a fight, it'll be fine."

"Uh-huh."  She stared him down.  "Let the boy know we *will* be talking tomorrow."  She smiled at Horatio and patted him on the cheek. "You be sweet to them tonight, sugar."  She left, heading home to think.  She had accepted that Horatio might be gay but to have *two* boys?  And one just a baby at eighteen?  That she was not expecting and she had some thinking to do.  He and Mac were both in their forties.  That might not be a healthy relationship for them to be in.  She'd have to watch and make sure Xander wasn't being hurt.  After all, she could adopt another sarcastic son.

Horatio looked at Mac and nodded, feeding him another bite.  "Bed?"

He took one of his own to nibble as he walked that way.  "Thought they'd never leave," he said with a smile back at his lover.  Horatio followed once he made sure the house was locked up.  They curled up with Xander in front of Horatio and Mac holding Horatio this time.  It felt very nice.  Soon they were all as asleep as Xander was and Xander was having that same sort of giggling dream.


Mac woke up to a welcome sensation, someone was gently teasing his stomach with their fingertips and there was a warm mouth on his cock.  He opened his eyes and smiled at Xander, the teasing one, and Horatio, who had a mouth that should be illegal.  "Morning," he said.

"Morning, sleepy," Xander said with a grin, taking a kiss.  "So much for an early riser."  He took another kiss then kissed Horatio, who pulled him closer to get deeper into his mouth.  Xander whimpered.  "Morning to you too."

Horatio smiled.  "I'm fairly certain we said good morning over an hour ago, Xander."  He took another kiss.  "One question, are you ours or just Mac's?"

Xander swallowed and kissed him again.  "It'd be silly to come visit if I was only his."

Horatio smirked and nodded.  "Good."  He pounced, driving Xander onto his back, taking control of what they were doing.  Xander made such pretty sounds underneath him, rocking up into him while they kissed.  Mac was watching, slowly and gently teasing himself.  "We'll let you have your wakeup in a few minutes."  He got back to pleasing Xander, making him beg for him.  "There is nothing prettier than when your lover begs," he said in his ear.  "Can you beg me?"  Xander made pleading noises, all the sweeter to him.  It gave him all the permission he needed to grab the lube and prepare their boy.

"Gently," Mac cautioned.  "It's only been a few times, Horatio."

"Of course I'll be gentle."  He finished the quick stretching, Xander was riding his fingers and still imploring him with his body and sounds.  He slicked himself up and slid in, making Xander gasp and wiggle a bit.  Mac held his hand as Horatio slowly moved his way inside him.  "Too fast?" he panted.  Xander growled and flipped them over, taking control.

"That's how I ended up calling Willow," Mac teased, helping by pulling Xander off and holding him still so he could talk in his ear.  "That's Horatio, Xander.  You love him.  You know that he's one of us."  Xander growled.  "Let him.  Don't try to out-alpha him."  Xander pounced again and Horatio was more than happy to let him do all the work this time.  Xander was a thing of beauty while riding him.  Mac was helping by stroking Xander gently, kissing his shoulder and back, nibbling on his neck.  At the next growl, Mac bit him lightly.  Xander yelped and came.  Horatio laughed and pulled the boy down to kiss him.  "That is very pretty," Mac said, taking his own from each of them.  Then he pulled Xander off and had him himself, letting Horatio finish himself off however he wanted.

"You could have waited, Mac," Horatio complained, giving him a nudge out of the way.  He slid back into the damp hole, going on, staring down at Xander.  "Mine?" he asked.  Xander whimpered.  "Xander, answer me."

"Yours too," he agreed.  Horatio smiled.  "But I want to top sometime."

"If you want," Horatio agreed, speeding up.  He was nearly there and Xander's body was starting to get interested again.  He finally let himself slip over and let himself relax for a few minutes, kissing Xander gently, stroking over his side and arms.  "Should I bite you too?"

"Mac said if I bit him again he was going to spank."

Horatio laughed and got out of the way, nodding.  "Some people don't like to be bitten.  Some do.  That's one of the complexities that make relationships so good."  Mac made Xander yelp before he slid in, making Xander moan and groan and stretch and arch against him.  He helped the same way Mac had, stroking the hardening cock until their boy got off and fell asleep nearly instantly.  Mac was only a few seconds behind and it was good that they cuddled.  Horatio curled up behind Xander's back, holding him with Mac this time, smiling over Xander's shoulder at him.  "We should probably soak with him later," he said when Mac woke from his nap.

"We will," Mac promised, smiling at him.  "Anything else happen while I was asleep?"

"He's a very good kisser and I woke him up the same way.  He does taste very good, Mac."

"He does.  It's one of my favorite wakeups too."  They shared a kiss then Horatio yawned.  "Tired?" he teased.

"I haven't rebuilt my stamina yet."  He smiled and settled in behind their younger lover.  "Besides, he'll want to explore later."

Mac nodded that was true and let himself drift off as well.  It was a good morning so far.  The next time he got up he smelled eggs and bacon, which made his stomach grumble and his bladder wake up too.  He went to fix one problem and shower, then came out to find breakfast waiting on him and Xander in a pair of soft blue jeans and a silk shirt.  "You look comfortable."

"I am, kinda.  I've never worn silk before."  Xander grinned at him.  "I made the bacon."

"It looks good."  He sat down and dug in, moaning at the taste of the maple syrup added to the bacon while it had been frying.  "Very good, Xander."  Xander beamed and dug in again, asking Horatio all sorts of questions.  Mac just smiled.  Horatio was answering and happy.  It was a good afternoon as well.  "We have a few hours until everyone gets here."

Xander gave him a look.  "Did you know that the Feds want to talk to me again?  They left a message on the machine."

"Because of the complaints on the plane?" Horatio said dryly.

"Because I threatened to have them investigated for stupidity and safety hazard conditions."  Xander gave him a look then grinned at Mac.  "They didn't have fire suppression equipment.  Did you see any?"  Mac thought back then shook his head.  "Me either.  Though I did see restraints in the overhead compartment."  Horatio choked at that.  He nodded.  "Yeah, not seat belts for the show-n-tell either.  That's why you had me put on clothes."

"It was," Horatio agreed.  "If necessary he can stay down here for a few days until it's settled."

Mac gave him a look.  "Getting greedy, Horatio?"

"You've had him for a few weeks, it's my turn," Horatio countered.

"Not the neighborhood yo-yo," Xander pointed out.  "Play nicely with me."

Both older men laughed at that.  Xander got up to answer the door when it was knocked on, staring at the guy on the other side until Mac finally looked over.  "Xander, who's that?" he called.

"Fedman."  He let him inside, then slammed the door in the face of the other one.  "One at a time," he called.  "Otherwise I have to play ping-pong listening and I don't have that much patience yet today."  The other Fed pounded on the door so Horatio went to growl at him, making him run off.  Xander sat down at his plate and smiled.  "Morning."

The agent looked at his watch.  "Technically for another eleven and a half minutes or so," he said dryly.  "Mr. Harris I presume?"  Xander nodded.  "You made allegations about lack of safety features?"   Xander nodded again.  "Would you like to outline them?"  Xander got up and hit the print button on Horatio's computer, coming out to hand it to him.  He looked amused.  "Dealt with agents before I see?"

Xander grinned.  "I just graduated from Sunnydale High."

The agent went pale and nodded.  "That would answer why you have a sealed file?"  Xander nodded, eating a bite of bacon then licking his fingers.  "I see. Would you like to tell me what happened there?"

"Nope.  Ask the guys stationed out that way now."

"I can't.  I don't have a high enough clearance."

"Then you're not going to get him to break confidence," Horatio said blandly, nibbling on some toast.  "We don't want him in jail."

The agent looked at him.  "You were reported there.  As well as Detective Taylor.  Was there a reason for that?"  Xander raised his hand.  "Asking a question?" he asked.

"They were there to see me graduate.  They helped with the evacuation and the clean up."

The agent stared at him.  "If it wasn't for the silly grin on your face I'd almost believe that story, Mr. Harris."

Xander smirked.  "They were there to see me graduate.  They did help with the evac and the cleanup.  If you don't want to believe me, go ask someone else who was there.  There were dozens of agents by dark that night and over half of them stayed after they decided that the nightlife suited them."  Horatio choked.  "Sorry, Willow figured out that's why some of them got assigned there.  The two who took my statement are both all right though.  They made it home okay."  He looked at the agent again.  "I had every right to protest that weed-smoking little bimbette grounding us because someone had a seizure and her not even being bright enough to call an ambulance for the poor person.  Not to mention the fact that the plane didn't have any fire suppression equipment yet it did have restraints in most of the overhead compartments.  Then they tried to talk to us about non- disclosure agreements?"  He snorted.  "Sorry, grew up in the nineties and the X-Files guys don't scare me.  Neither do you."

"We could keep you from going home."

"You can try but I think I can work my way around that.  After all,  I do drive."  The agent looked unamused.  "Hey, if you want to put me on the no-fly list for speaking out about the stupidity, go right ahead.  I'm sure there's a reporter somewhere in Miami who can hit a national news desk with it.  If not, the one guy already called Newsweek."  He smiled sweetly.  "Sometimes we want the government to work and not try to take over what my boyfriends should be doing to me right now.  My ass is theirs, not yours."  The agent spluttered.  So did his lovers.  "I only scream for them.  I won't have the pretty fear response you're trying to make me have.  I've seen bigger and badder in size zero jeans in my town.  Your whole agency makes me laugh.  And yes, I do have some impressive friends and yes they are working with the Feds who just got sent to Sunnydale and yes, Willow is that vindictive.  I've already told her.  I'm sure she's told them at least once and ranted at least another time.  It's wholly up to you if you want to try to continue this nice intimidation act.  If so, go ahead, I could use a good laugh today."

"Xander," Horatio warned quietly.

"Not like he scares me!" he said dryly, giving him a look.  "I'm a bit outspoken when I run into blatant stupidity in progress."

Mac poured Xander some coffee, handing it over with the sugar.  "Here.  You need that."  He looked at the agent.  "Is that enough of a statement or did you need mine as well since I was on the same flight and had to force someone to call the person an ambulance before they died of their second seizure?"  The agent gave him a horrified look.  "Unlike Xander, I know which ears to complain in to get everyone on that flight fired and I think it's a good idea.  The only one who showed any sense was the co-pilot.  He made sure the guy who came on at the Miami airport to get us to not talk left."

The agent just nodded.  "Then you won't keep quiet about this?"

Xander looked at him. "Don't make me find the phone book.  I'm sure the Miami Herald is listed.  As is every single news station in the city.  The more you annoy me about this, the more you make me want to call."  The agent backed up.  "Now, you're ruining a reunion event and not making with the happy times.  Can I finish eating?"  The man walked out, slamming the door behind him.  He said something in a demon language and drank the coffee.

"Called him a bad name?" Horatio asked tolerantly.

"Nearly cursed him to eternal flatulence," Xander said dryly, giving him a look.  Mac snickered.  "I'm not that mean to other beings.  Whoever gave him the cloned wife might mind."  He drank another sip and sighed in pleasure.  "Ah, back to a good breakfast."  Someone knocked. "It's not four yet!" he called, somehow knowing it was a coworker.  They came in anyway.  "Can't tell time?" he asked the guy.

"I can but we just got invaded by nosy Feds who were looking for Horatio.  The guys with the flat tire outside some of them?" he asked his boss.

"They are, Speed.  They came to talk about the plane issue."

"Ah," Speed said, nodding a bit.  "Did you send them running?" he teased his buddy.

Horatio smirked and pointed at Xander.  "He sent him fuming and stomping off."

"Even better.  Starting to like you already, kid.  Just make sure you don't hurt Horatio or we will destroy you.  Understood?"

Xander pulled out his wallet and held up the pictures.  "They're nastier, tougher, and more evil than you could ever be and they said the same thing."  He put his wallet back at the laugh.  "Don't make me prove it.  Miami would be destroyed by the time Buffy got done on Spring Break."  Horatio gave him a horrified look so he smiled sweetly.  "Willow's trying to talk her out of it."

"I'll give Willow some help with that," Horatio decided, smiling at Mac.

"Maybe that week we'll both take off for somewhere college students won't go?" he suggested.

"I hear Antarctica is nice that time of year," Xander said dryly, looking at them.  "Love me, love my confused friends and my shirts you don't like.  Because Buffy thinks I have both of you as love pets."

"Fine," Horatio muttered.  "Even if I do want to swat Buffy... a lot."

Mac laughed.  "I got pounced by the babbling, hyperactive Willow the last time I saw her, Horatio.  Trade ya."  Xander growled and they both kissed him.  "We do love you and we'll learn to like your friends, the same way you like ours."

Xander nodded.  "Fine.  I admit, babbling at you is an acquired taste, but get used to it since I do it too, guys.  Just wait."  They both groaned.  He looked at Mac, then at Horatio then back at Mac.  "Am I staying for a while or coming back or what?"

"Up to you," Mac told him.

"I agree, it should be your call," Horatio agreed.

Xander kissed him. "Don't pout.  It's unfair."  Speed burst out laughing and left them alone.  "Hmm.  Now I can pounce again."

"Let me finish eating and having coffee first," Horatio warned.  Xander did the same and by the time Mac was done clearing the table, Horatio was on his back on the couch in the living room begging for mercy and more.  Mac settled in to watch his lovers play because they were beautiful together.


to part 2